First African-American in Baseball – “Jackie Robinson”
Jackie Robinson, the first African-American in Baseball, changed the face of sports for ever.Not only was he an outstanding athlete, but with the help of Branch Ricky, they worked for reforms in the sports community.There was work required, though, since many sacrifices were made.
The face of not only segregation, but the face of sports was on his shoulders. Through his unique form of, Jackie Robinson was one of the greatest driving forces behind equality and helps to equalize many things most people Jack Roosevelt Robinson was born in January 31, 1919 in the town of Cairo, Georgia.
Jackie, as most people called him, was stared in many sports through both High School and College. He stared in Baseball, Football, Track, and Basketball. He had many accomplishments, but one that stands out in his college years was when alongside Kenny Washington almost took UCLA to the Rose Bowl (“Jackie Robinson” 1). When Jackie’s athletic eligibility ended he left UCLA and got a job with the National Youth Administration. While there he played football with the Honolulu Bears. When World War 2 broke out, the Army’s Officers Candidate School accepted Jackie and ecame a second lieutenant.
While stationed at Fort Riley in Kansas, Jackie was not allowed to play Baseball or Football (“Jackie Robinson” 1). Jackie, however, tried to play both Baseball and Football while stationed. When the Football team formed he was ordered to go home on leave. Then he was told to try out for the nonwhite baseball team, which he later discovered didn’t exist. He was then sent Fort Hood. After a good deal of time, Jackie was court-martialed for breaking Jim Crow status. Although it he was found innocent, he was discharged on medical grounds, nd was given an honorable discharge (“Robinson, Jackie” 1).
In 1945 Robinson signed a contract with the Kanas City Monarchs of the NAL (Negro American League) for four-hundred and fifty dollars a month (“Jackie Robinson” 1). Attention was brought to Jackie because of his great play. Branch Ricky, Brooklyn’s General Manager, picked him as the most likely to overcome racism in sports In April 1945, ironically Jackie heard from the Boston Red Sox, who were the last to integrate the two leagues. On August 27, 1945 Robinson was brought to the Dodgers Office at 215 Montague Street.
Jackie thought he was there for the Brown Dodgers, but on the contrary he was there to sign with the Montreal Royals. Ricky was really sure of Jackie but he wanted to see how he would put up with the pressure and abuse (“Jackie Robinson” 1). To test him, Ricky put him through several situations. One involved a white player hurling offensive racial slurs at Jackie and then punched him in the face. “Rickey took a mock swing at Robinson, and hollered, ‘What do you do know, Jackie? What do you do now? ‘ Robinson replied, ‘I get it, Mr. Rickey. I’ve got another cheek.
I turn the other cheek'” (“Jackie Robinson” 1). That was all Rickey needed to hear and on October 23 he announced that Robinson had a contract with the Montreal Royals Jackie first appeared on April 18, 1946, for the first time in organized baseball. The house was packed and Jackie went four-for-five with one homer, four RBIs, four runs, and two stolen bases. As something of a trademark, Jackie danced away from the plate allowing Jersey City to commit two balks (“Jackie Robinson” 2). Rickey feared that resistance was soon to follow and it did.
At Syracuse he was aunted, two Baltimore players protested, and Robinson’s two black teammates that year washed out. He was a nervous wreak by the end of the season, but still he came out to be the International League’s batting champion at . 349 (“Jackie Robinson” 2) Rickey decided that it was now time for Jackie to hit the major leagues, but he being very cautious. For Dodgers spring training in 1947, Rickey sent Jackie to Havana, but still keeping him on the Montreal roster. Rickey was being a cautious as he Could, trying to anticipate any countermove made against him.
One move he may of issed was a number of players, including Dixie Walker, signed a petition against playing with ‘a black man’. One night Leo Durocher told them to take the petition and stuff it, after waking them up from sleeping. Rickey told them the same the next day Rickey had already thought this out, and he wanted Jackie’s teammates not only to accept him but to want him. he scheduled seven exhibition games in order to show of what Jackie could do. He received an . 625 batting average, and that seem to turn some eyes in his direction.
Rickey, although, didn’t announce Jackie was on that seasons line p until three days before the first game. The news of this you would think would be headline, but it was overshadowed by the suspension of Durocher (“Jackie Robinson” 2). He played his first game at the age of 28. For several games he went hitless and he continued to struggle for most of the season. The behavior of other teams did not help though. Death threats were given in Cincinnati against both him and Reese, a long time friend and supporter.
Problems continued and even the Cardinals almost went on strike until St. Louis management and National League President Ford Frick stopped it. “‘I do ot care if the league strikes,’ Frick said, ‘those who do will encounter quick retribution. All will be suspended, and I don’t care if it wreaks the National League for five years. This is the United States of America and one citizen has as much right to play as another.
The National League will go down the line with Robinson, whatever the consequences'” Jackie had to stifle a lot because the verbal abuse, and the immense pressure continued, but through it all Rickey’s experiment had worked. “.. itcher Don Newcombe, ‘That’s the one thing I didn’t like about Jackie he always wanted to be right, and you an’t be right all the time. You have to be wrong sometimes'” (“Jackie Robinson” 2). After a year or two of confusion Jackie was traded to the Giant for Dick Littlefield and thirty-thousand dollars. The Giants offered him sixty thousand to stay on, but the Dodgers accused him of saying something about retiring just to get a better and bigger contract. To prove him wrong Jackie retired and started busying himself with Financial games and such (“Jackie Robinson” 3).
Once out of Baseball he got a position with a coffee company and then as board hairman of Freedom national Bank. Robinson grew ill with diabetes and died from a heart attack in his home in Stanford, Connecticut on October 24, 1972. The Dodgers retired his number 42, and he was elected into the hall of fame in 1962, the first year he was eligible. The National League Rookie of the year was renamed in his honor in 1986 Though most people now take segregation for granted, there where many people who helped change it. Jackie Robinson with the help of Branch Rickey worked to reform the major leagues of not only one sport but all of them.