The Life of Jackie

By Sean P.

Racism is a big problem today, but it was even worse at the time of Jackie Robinson. Jackie Robinson was a great baseball player and the first Black person to play in Major League Baseball.

Before Jackie Robinson, the Negro Baseball League was the only way Black people could play professional baseball. A lot of the players in the Negro Baseball League were as good as those in the MLB. But the Negro Baseball League could not pay their players very well because they did not have the market income. The stadiums where they played were not as nice as the MLB. The African American players in the Negro Baseball League were often not allowed in the restaurants where they traveled.

Enter Wesley Branch Rickey, originally a Major League Baseball player, and a sports executive for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Branch Rickey wanted the MLB to be integrated. It was a smart thing to do because even though it was controversial, he didn’t care because he wanted his

team to be better. Satchel Paige was probably a better Negro League player, but he was older, and some thought he wouldn’t be able to take the hate. Even though his stats were better Branch Rickey picked Robinson because his stats were good, and he was able to take the racist comments.

Jack Roosevelt Robison was born in 1919 to a family of sharecroppers. His dad left him at an early age and his mom had to raise him on her own and her other four children. Growing up, Jackie Robinson played all sports and learned to make his own way in life. At UCLA he became the first athlete to win four awards for football, track, baseball, and basketball. In 1941 he was named to the All-American football team. Due to financial issues, he was forced to leave UCLA and went to the army. After two years of the army, he had a horrible discharge due to racial discrimination.

In 1945 he joined the Negro Baseball League. Playing for only one season with the Kansas City Monarchs, Jackie Robinson showed his talent in the field as shortstop. In April of 1947, Jackie Robinson was brought to the Brooklyn Dodgers by Branch Rickey. Jackie Robinson knew he had to succeed in the Majors, not only for himself, but for all African-American athletes. He lived up to expectations playing in the All-Star Game in 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952,

1953 and 1954. Jackie Robinson was also Rookie of the Year in 1947. In his rookie season, Robinson hit .297 with 12 home runs and 48 RBI in 151 games. According to teammate, Duke Snider, “He (Jackie Robinson) knew he had to do well. He knew that the future of Blacks in baseball depended on it. The pressure was enormous, overwhelming, and unbearable at times. I don’t know how he held up. I know I never could have.”

The accomplishments Jackie Robinson made with the racism he faced were life-changing for future Black athletes. He changed the way we view segregation in sports and led to more diversity in sports.

Student Bio

Sean P.

2021 Summer Program

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