African-American, ball players, baseball, Brooklyn, civil rights, Jackie Robinson, Los Angeles Dodgers, Major League Baseball, Martin Luther King, MLB, Pasadena, Pasadena City College, UCLA Bruins, Westwood
IN COMMEMORATION OF THE 68TH ANNIVERSARY JACKIE ROBINSON’S BREAKING OF BASEBALL’S COLOR BARRIER TODAY
“Were there better ball players? Sure. But were there better men? No.” – Bob Costas
Dr. Martin Luther King, of all people, told him that because of what he did at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, he made it easier for the iconic civil rights leader to do his job.
Reggie Jackson, who had an outstanding Hall of Fame career of his own, once stated that “…he was the only one of us (African-American baseball players) that could have done it,” meaning that because of the extreme pain he went through to control himself in the midst of all the hell that the many racial bigots permeating the baseball landscape – players and otherwise – put him through that first year he was in “The Show”.
I won’t go on about his .311 lifetime batting average, or how he led the Dodgers to six pennants and their first World Series title during his ten years in MLB.
Or how he completely went against his nature when he successfully refrained from retaliating against the many racist incidents that he went through during the first three years of his organized baseball career, his one season in the minors as well as his first two years in Brooklyn as he had a volatile temper and would normally brawl at the drop of a hat.
Which ultimately killed him at a young age due to the pronounced stress that turning the other cheek caused.
Nor will I go on about how he was the best athlete to come out of not only UCLA – he was and still is the Bruins’ only four sport letterman – but the entire Southern California region as his exploits while at Pasadena’s John Muir High School and Pasadena City College were legendary.
Or how he tirelessly campaigned for civil rights in his later years.
There are many websites and media sources that have that covered.
Instead, I feel that Jackie Robinson’s legacy can better be served by showing these video clips of his life not only as one of the “Boys of Summer”, but also as a Bruin in Westwood and – in a rare clip – as a Pasadena City College athlete, thanks to YouTube:
So please enjoy:
I do have one more way that Jackie can be honored, even though realistically speaking, I understand that it’s highly unlikely for this to ever happen:
Every sport that wears numbers on the back of their uniforms at EVERY level, from T-Ball/Pop Warner/YMCA Basketball/Pee-Wee Hockey/AYSO to ALL college sports to the NFL/NBA/NHL/MLS as well as Major League Baseball – which already did this in 1997 – should forbid the number 42 to ever be worn again.
I truly feel that America, and the world, owes that to Jackie.
Who is widely considered as not only the greatest Dodger and UCLA Bruin of all time, but the greatest man in the history of sports.
I’ll end this tribute by requesting that if you have a #42 replica Dodger jersey, be sure to wear it today.
Of course, I’m wearing mine right now!