Jackie Robinson: An ode to the barrier-breaker

(News4usonline) – Jackie Robinson, like many other Black people, has gone through a lot. From hatred to discrimination, he was among many victims of such acts that are considered illegal in the United States today but were not many years ago.

Robinson’s courageous, nonviolent acts of fighting against white prejudice are among the most inspiring out of any act that a minority would use to stand up against such acts. They are also the right things to do rather than to use violence.

Although February is designated as “Black History Month,” Major League Baseball set April 15 as “Jackie Robinson Day” as of the date in 2004. Since then, every MLB club wears No. 42 on their uniforms at every game on April 15, which is the date that Robinson broke the color barrier in MLB in 1947.

The Dodgers were the first team to retire Robinson’s No. 42 back in 1972, which means that players on the Dodgers can no longer wear it on their jerseys. However, as of 1997, No. 42 was retired all throughout MLB. Nobody in MLB will ever wear No. 42 on their jerseys.

The Los Angeles Dodgers retired No. 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson. Robinson’s No. 42 can be seen on the top deck patio of Dodger Stadium. Photo by Jevone Moore

Robinson has connections to the Los Angeles area, having lived at 121 Pepper Street in  Pasadena, California, from 1920 to 1941. That is one reason why his name is on the baseball field and stadium in Brookside Park, which sits adjacent to the Rose Bowl.

There are also numerous statues and plaques honoring Robinson across the nation and in Canada, including in Pasadena as well as at Dodger Stadium. There is also a road that bisects the Cypress Hills Cemetery in Brooklyn, where Robinson is buried, that is named after him as well as a plaque at 8232 Avenue de Gaspé in Montreal, which was Robinson’s address while playing for the Montreal Royals in 1946.

Robinson has left a major impact not only on the game of baseball but also on society as a whole. His accomplishments and contributions throughout his life have touched the lives of everyone.

While Robinson was part of a violent street gang as a teen, he eventually left it and started doing the right things, all of which did not involve violence. He knew fighting with his fists would only make things worse, so he fought back by trying to be the better person.

Robinson’s decade-long, illustrious career included him winning the 1954 World Series. He also won the inaugural MLB Rookie of the Year award in 1947, in which he batted .297, had 175 hits, 12 of which were home runs, and drove in 48 runs in 151 games.

Hot Springs
The Hot Springs Historic Baseball Trail features a unique mural of baseball greats Jackie Robinson, Satchel Paige (far left), Babe Ruth, Lefty Grove, and Honus Wagner. The “Playing Cards” mural is located in downtown Hot Springs, Arkansas. Artists Chris Arnold and Jeff Garrison created the mural. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman

In addition to baseball, Robinson was also a star athlete in other sports throughout his life. He excelled in athletics at John Muir High School, Pasadena Junior College (now Pasadena City College), and UCLA.

After retiring from baseball, Robinson followed in the footsteps of other Black pioneers like Martin Luther King Jr. and even got involved in American politics. He helped back the Johnson administration’s military policy during the Vietnam War for example.

He also praised John F. Kennedy for his stance on civil rights although he initially backed Richard Nixon during the election of 1964.

Anyone can say that Jackie Robinson was a great human being all around. He helped shape the United States into the country it is today. Even though segregation is outlawed, some of the racial prejudice still exists, and he helped pave the way for methods to combat it.

Come April 15, if there is baseball season, since MLB is currently in a lockout as it tries to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement with the players’ association, a lot of people will probably come out to ballgames leaguewide and honor the legacy of Jackie Robinson and the impact he had on baseball as well as American society.

Featured Image Caption: Jackie Robinson swinging a bat in Dodgers uniform, 1954. Courtesy photo