By ERIC BALMER
There may not be a more influential, inspirational and brave person to have played the game of baseball than Jackie Robinson. From the moment he stepped onto a major league field in 1947, Robinson faced many hardships but did what most thought was the impossible and broke the Major League Baseball color barrier.
Robinson was abused by harsh words and racial slurs from opposing fans, and even some players on as his team refused to play by his side. On the field, the treatment of him by his opponents was brutal at times. In one particular game against the Cardinals, he was on the receiving end of a seven-inch gash. Not all the players in the Majors hated him though, and there were people who genuinely cared for and looked after Jackie. His manager, Leo Durocher, was on record saying that he didn’t care what color his players were; what was most important was how they played. He said that if one of his players had a problem with him playing Robinson, they could leave.
If breaking the color barrier was the only significant milestone that Robinson achieved in his ten years in the major leagues, he would have been a success, but his stats were just as impressive. During his time playing in MLB, he had a .311 batting average, 1,518 hits, 734 RBIs, 197 stolen bases, as well as six All-star appearances and a World Series victory. Oh, and by the way, Jackie Robinson is a first ballot hall-of-famer.
On Monday, April 15, Major League teams around the nation celebrated the life and baseball career of the great Jackie Robinson. In fact, April 15 is National Jackie Robinson Day. The day is actually the same day that Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947. He played for the Brooklyn Dodgers in the number 42, which is now a league-wide retired number. Recently, “42” was released in theatres in memory of Jackie Robinson. The movie is the life story, historic signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers and sports career of the man who courageously wore the number 42.
Robinson strove to make a difference in people’s lives. “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives” (Jackie Robinson). He truly had an enormous impact on people in his day, and he will without question be on the minds and hearts of fans for many years.