Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Happy Birthday, Jackie Robinson! (1919 - 1972)


Today is the birth date of the man who courageously broke the color line in modern day major league baseball. It was 1947 when the Dodgers called up Robinson from the minors (where he'd been the first African American to play in  'whites only' minor league games) and caused a furor of controversy. Many ignorant players threatened not to set foot on any field with a 'colored' man.

Robinson was the butt of jokes, threats, insults from the public and other players. He suffered physical assaults from spikes as well as 'accidental' knock-downs on the field. When the team traveled he was not allowed to eat with the white players, especially in the South of that time. In many towns he wasn't allowed to stay in the same hotels as the other Dodger players, sometimes being forced to sleep on the bus.

He took all this with a gentleman's calm grace and patience to rival Job's. The truth of the matter is that he was an extraordinary human being.

Robinson merely knocked the hell out of the ball and played his heart out on the field, becoming one of the greatest baseball players in the history of the game. He eventually won the respect and admiration of other players and the public.


He had been signed to the team by another courageous man, the far-thinking Dodger's club president and general manager, Branch Rickey who'd been scouting the Negro Leagues for possible players and decided to go with Jackie Robinson, keeping the whole thing a secret until the last possible moment. The rest, as they say, is history.

Wonderful poem about Robinson by the poet, Lucille Clifton:

ran against walls
without breaking.
in night games
was not foul
but, brave as a hit
over whitestone fences,
entered the conquering dark.

Thanks to Robin Bates of BETTER LIVING THROUGH BEOWULF, for the tip.

To read about Jackie Robinson's life, please use this link.

12 comments:

  1. What a courageous man and hero to millions! To even think of the horrors that he had to deal with is repugnant.

    Yet millions of people hold him dear and remember him as a true hero as well as a magnificent baseball player.

    Happy Birthday Jackie Robinson!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I agree completely, Kathy. He was a true hero.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wouldn't he smile to know that today an American President is a Negro.
    And I think he has done alot.
    Concidering he has a huge plate of Republican debt and ____ to deal with.
    Maine has a new LAW- if you have a flat, you can not buy 1 tire. YOU MUST BUY 4 tires. $700.00 for a flat. I am mad as hell. yvonne

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh, I think Jackie would be overjoyed - in his own quiet way.

    That tire law makes little sense to me, Yvonne.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I know from my reading that Jackie Robinson had many threats on his life. Imagine walking out onto a field where there were hundreds or thousands of people angry at you! He was indeed a courageous person!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Mark, I couldn't agree more. I don't know how he did it. He must have had guts of steel.

    But in truth, I think the constant pressure is part of what hastened his early death. I really do.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Do you know this Lucille Clifton poem about Robinson, Yvette?

    ran against walls
    without breaking.
    in night games
    was not foul
    but, brave as a hit
    over whitestone fences,
    entered the conquering dark.

    ReplyDelete
  8. When I teach the (modern) civil rights movement, I always ask the students what date they would give for its beginning. They usually give Brown v. Board, but I suggest 1947--for Jackie Robinson. He was that important.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Robin: No, I was not familiar with this graceful poem. I think it's beautiful.

    I'm going to add it to the Jackie Robinson post. Thanks for letting me know about it.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Oh, I couldn't agree more, Katie. I might even say he was crucial.

    It's so important that he not be forgotten.

    ReplyDelete
  11. A wonderful tribute to a great man. He was my older brother's favorite baseball player!

    ReplyDelete
  12. The Brooklyn Dodgers will always have a special place in my heart because of Jackie Robinson.

    He was a great man. I agree, Pat.

    ReplyDelete

Your comment will appear after I take a look.