On Sunday, April 15, Major League Baseball honored Jackie Robinson, the first African-American to play in the Majors with “Jackie Robinson Day.”
Sixty years ago Jackie played his first game for the Brooklyn Dodges in Ebbets Field versus the Boston Braves. Sure, I can talk about the great career Jackie Robinson had, which included being part of six World Series teams, winning Major League Baseball’s first ever Rookie of the Year Award and National League MVP, but that would not do his legacy justice.
Jackie’s integration into the Majors was a groundbreaking event not just in baseball, but for American history as well.
Jackie Robinson came before civil rights activist Rosa Parks refused to give up her set on a bus, before the military was integrated and before Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech. When Jackie began playing in 1947 he was faced with death threats against him and his family.
People threw bottles down on the field to try to hit him and many of his own teammates hated him. Jackie’s life was one of struggle during his baseball career and after as a civil rights activist. Jackie Robinson was not any ordinary baseball player; he was a man who fought for equality.
This burden that he carried led to his early death on Oct. 24, 1972 at the age of 53. On “Jackie Robinson Day” players such as Robinson Cano (who was named after Jackie Robinson), Derek Jeter and Torii Hunter among others and teams including the Los Angeles Dodges wore Jackie’s number 42 on their uniforms.
The ceremony included Hank Aaron and Jackie’s wife, Rachel. At the ceremony Rachel spoke about Jackie’s fight for equality and how it is not yet over. Next time someone feels like they’ve had a bad day and that life is too stressful they should look at Jackie Robinson’s life and maybe they would change their mind; because after all he went through he said a couple of months before his unfortunate death that he had a great life.
Jackie Robinson was not just a pioneer in baseball, but also in American society.
Hopefully future players of all races and cultures learn about Robinson’s impact and realize that they too have an impact because as Jackie himself once said: “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.