Baseball is holding its fifth annual Jackie Robinson Day on the 66th anniversary of his breaking Major League Baseball’s color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
All uniformed personnel throughout baseball were asked to wear Robinson’s number 42 on Monday starting with the first game between the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Nine games were scheduled.
Mr. Robinson became the first African American to play in Major League Baseball in the modern era. He broke the color barrier when the Brooklyn Dodgers started him at first base on April 15, 1947. As the first major league team to play a black man since the 1880s, the Dodgers ended racial segregation that had relegated black players to the Negro Leagues for six decades. The example of Robinson’s character and unquestionable talent challenged the traditional basis of segregation, which then marked many other aspects of American life, and contributed significantly to the Civil Rights Movement.
It was no doubt that Jackie Robinson SHOULD have play MLB. In ten seasons, all but the first of which he played at second base, Robinson played in six World Series and helped the Dodgers win the 1955 World Championship. He was selected for six consecutive MLB All-Star Games, from 1949 to 1954, was the recipient of the inaugural MLB Rookie of the Year Award in 1947, and won the National League Most Valuable Player Award in 1949—the first black player so honored. Robinson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.
When commissioner Bud Selig declared in 1997 that Robinson’s number would no longer be issued — it was the 50th anniversary of the day Robinson integrated baseball — The Yankees closer Mariano Rivera was among 13 players still wearing 42.
Since 2003, Rivera has been the only 42. When he goes, Robinson’s number will go into retirement with him. This is quite fitting because after everything is said and done, only one player who I think shows the grace, the class, the professionalism and the great baseball ability like Robinson, should respectfully close #42 down when he’s done and that is Rivera (and this is coming from a Yankees-Hater).
If you haven’t seen the movie 42 yet, it is definitely a “must see”. It tells the life story of Jackie Robinson and his history-making signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers under the guidance of team executive Branch Rickey. I took my wife and youngest daughter to go see it and they both said it was worth watching and that everybody should go see it to get a grasp and understanding of what Robinson had to go through in order for minorities to play baseball at the professional level.
Thanks MR. Jackie Robinson, for the sacrifices you made for African-Americans on and of the baseball field. You definitely deserve this day.