I have never seen Jackie Robinson play baseball, he died years before I was born.
I have seen a few highlights of his career but can only recall one clip I have ever seen of him playing baseball and it is probably the most well known clip, Jackie steals home against the Yankees in the World Series. Robinson played 10 seasons in the Majors and I have probably seen less than 10 minutes of game footage. That goes across the board for most players before my time, watching old footage unless it is part of a documentary is just not something I have a desire to sit down and watch, I prefer to read about old-time baseball. As the man with the waxed mustache would say it has a certain je ne sais quoi.
By the numbers baseball historians will tell you he was a tremendous player, he hit .311 stole about 200 bases and drove in 730 runs, winning an MVP, a batting title, the rookie of the year, 6 all-star selections and one World Series ring.
They will further say Jackie Robinson accepted an offer from Branch Rickey to join the Brooklyn Dodgers organization in 1946, and worked his way through the system to debut with the Dodgers the following year on April, 15 1947.
As a kid growing up I knew the name Jackie Robinson, but I really didn’t know much about the man until I started reading baseball history books in high school. Many people enjoy Revolution history, WWII history and early settler history. My hobby has always been as I like to call it train-era baseball when players spent hours together between stations. Books began to tell a tale of heroics of a man I never seen play.
In 1997 Major League Baseball universally retired his number across baseball. That same year Ken Griffey Jr. asked permission to wear number 42 on the anniversary of his first game to honor Robinson; in 2009 it became a tradition league wide. And in 2013 one of the most amazing films not just about baseball, but in cinema history was released with Chadwick Boseman portraying Jackie Robinson wonderfully in 42. I have seen more film of Boseman portraying Robinson than Robinson portraying himself on the field.
Today you will hear many African-American players admit that they owe their place on the field to Robinson. In the past Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson and Ken Griffey Jr. to name a few have made statements that without the efforts of Robinson they probably would not be playing baseball. Even Martin Luther King Jr. himself credits Jackie Robinson for his part in the civil rights movement just by playing baseball with the Dodgers in the late-1940’s.
Andrew McCutchen, Derek Jeter, David Ortiz, Starling Marte and Curtis Granderson are some of the players in baseball I really enjoy watching anytime they are on tv. Rickey Henderson, Harold Reynolds, Tony Gwynn and Willie Randolph are just a few of the players I loved growing up. I may not have seen much of Robinson on film, but every time I seen Rickey steal a base, every time McCutchen dives to make a catch, each time Jeter make a great play, when Gwynn chased .400 and Ortiz rip a ball over the monster I see Jackie play.
Thank you for making the journey, Jackie.
“I’m not concerned with your liking or disliking me … all I ask is that you respect me as a human being.” ~Jackie Robinson