Saturday, April 15, 2017

The LuLac Edition #3470, April 15th, 2017

Robinson in his youth and in his later, retired years. (Photos: PBS)

On this day before Easter, when spring is finally coming and baseball is being played, you tune in to a game or go to one and everyone is wearing number 42.
The Reason: Jackie Robinson.
It was 70 years ago today that the color barrier was broken. The Brooklyn Dodgers started him at first base on April 15, 1947. The Dodgers, by signing Robinson, heralded the end of racial segregation in professional baseball that had relegated black players to the Negro leagues since the 1880s. Robinson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.

Robinson had an exceptional 10-year baseball career. He was the recipient of the inaugural MLB Rookie of the Year Award in 1947, was an All-Star for six consecutive seasons from 1949 through 1954, and won the National League Most Valuable Player Award in 1949—the first black player so honored. Robinson played in six World Series and contributed to the Dodgers' 1955 World Series championship.

In 1997, MLB "universally" retired his uniform number, 42, across all major league teams; he was the first pro athlete in any sport to be so honored. MLB also adopted a new annual tradition, "Jackie Robinson Day", for the first time on April 15, 2004, on which every player on every team wears No. 42.
Robinson's character, his use of nonviolence, and his unquestionable talent challenged the traditional basis of segregation which then marked many other aspects of American life. He influenced the culture of and contributed significantly to the Civil Rights Movement.Robinson also was the first black television analyst in MLB, and the first black vice president of a major American corporation, Chock full o'Nuts.

In the 1960s, he helped establish the Freedom National Bank, an African-American-owned financial institution based in Harlem, New York. In recognition of his achievements on and off the field, Robinson was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal and Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Robinson pretty much retired when I became aware enough to follow baseball. So I never had the chance to witness the entire phenomena that surrounding him. But man did I hear about him. Growing up in the 60s, I heard Robinson both being celebrated for his play and criticized for his social views. He died when I was in high school but his life, legacy and contributions both on and off the field were always top of mind.

The night he died, all three networks delayed their 11:30PM to do specials about his life. Robinson led the way for other players of color to play in the game then known as The National Past time. (Larry Doby was the second player who followed Robinson). To many, he is a historical figure in the rear view mirror, someone in the grainy black and white films we see on TV. But to many of us aware of his presence, he was the person who opened the floodgates of change that made this country more inclusive. When he stepped onto to that field this day, 70 years ago, Robinson was changing more than a game.
He was changing a country. (Wikipedia, LuLac)


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