Jackie Robinson: Breaking the Color Barrier
It’s April 15, 1947 opening day at Ebbets Field, Brooklyn. Many people
have turned out to see one man, the first black person to ever play in major
league baseball. He is setting new standards for all blacks now and those to
come. His name is Jack Roosevelt Robinson. We all wish him well and hope he
can surmount the racial differences.
At this time it was unheard of to have a black person treated equally to a
white person, more the less it was highly unlikely to have a black person play on the same field as a white person. But for one man who stands alone Jackie Robinson’s conquest to break through the color barrier with the help of Branch Rickey has set new standards for all black athlete’s to come.
Jackie Robinson grew up in Cairo, Georgia. Jackie attended UCLA where he played baseball, basketball, football, and track. After collage Jackie enrolled in world war two. After the war Jackie got an honorable discharge.
After the end of the war Jackie didn’t know what he wanted to do and he was very short on money. Finally Jackie decided he wanted to join the Negro Leagues. In 1944 Jackie officially was on a Negro baseball team.(Shorto,Russell p. 5-10)
In 1945 Branch Rickey the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers was looking for a black player to break the serration barrier and rise above it all and join the
Major League Baseball Association. Rickey said that whoever the person was to
be would have to cope with taunts and insult, with name calling and abuse.
Rickey heard of the success of Jackie on the Negro League and sent his
scouts to see Jackie. (Ritter, S. Lawrence p. 43-51).
After a long meeting with Rickey, Jackie agreed to join the Brooklyn
organization. Rickey singed Robinson to a Minor League deal in 1945.
biggest challenge would be to overcome racial issues sought toward him without
acting out with everybody looking at him. Jackie had death threats, racial slur’s, and people wanting to seriously take him out of the game of baseball.
(Rampersad Arnold p. 176)
In 1947 Rickey called up Jackie to compete on a Major League level and
take his career to a much higher level. When people heard of this, that Jackie
was going to play on a Major League level players said that if Jackie was going to play they would strike, even some of Jackie’s teammates demanded to be traded
and during one of Jackie’s games a barrage of racial insults were directed toward him from the fans in the grandstand. (Ritter, S.
Lawrence p. 46)
The discrimination continued off the field. When the dodgers played on the
road Jackie wasn’t allowed to stay in the same hotels has his teammates. He
would have to stay in a hotel just for blacks or he had to stay in private homes by himself. In one case Jackie was allowed to stay in the same hotel has his team but he wasn’t allowed beyond the pool room and he had to eat his food in his room. (Flanker David p.
Toward the end of the season things were finally starting to look up.
Jackie’s wife was making friends with the other player’s wives, and Jackie finally got the respect from everyone now and many people were beginning to feel what it was like to be Jackie Robinson.
“Robinson won fans over because he could rouse them, but he also won
over his team, his league, and the nation, not only by being a lion but by having to be a lamp”. (Flanker, David p. 173)
Although having many friends now, Jackie will never forget his long time
friends Pee Wee Reese and Ralph Branca who stood by him when nobody else
was. Things kept getting better and better for Jackie the pitches at his head
when he was up stopped, most of the racial slurs have stopped, and Jackie was
finally being treated like a real baseball player not like a black person.
Jackie lead the league in steels, ranked second in runs scored, and he won the Rookie of the Year .