Jackie Robinson Essay Research Paper On August

Jackie Robinson Essay, Research Paper

On August 28, l945, Jackie Robinson met a men by the name of Branch Rickey, who wanted to end, once and for all, discrimination (Allen, l987). Jackie Robinson was the first black baseball player to play in the Major Leagues; he had to struggle through the racial

barrier of black and white to play.

“After leaving the Army Robinson joined the Kansas City Monarchs, a team in one of the Negro Leagues, as a shortstop. He earned $400 a month, a large amount in l945 (Allen, l987). However, life in the Negro Leagues was not very easy. Living conditions

were deplorable. Teams traveled by bus over bumpy roads neglected during the war years. Many hotels and restaurants did not serve blacks, so the black players often had to sleep and eat on the bus (Allen, l987). Talented black ballplayers often toiled for years without attaining the recognition and adulation they deserved. ‘In those days a white ballplayer could look forward to some streak of luck or some reward for hard work to carry him into

prominence or even stardom. What had the black player to hope for?’ Robinson wondered. ‘What was his future?’ for most it was bleak. Robinson often thought, ‘If I left baseball,where could I go, what could I do to earn enough money to help my mother and to marry Rachel?’ Yet his future turned out bright – thanks to Branch Rickey (Allen, l987).”

“Persuaded by Rickey to leave the Kansas City Monarchs after playing for them for only one season, Robinson signed a contract to join the Montreal Royals, the Dodgers top minor league club, in the spring of l946 (Allen, l987). He was to receive a salary of $600 a

month and a signing bonus of $3,500. Robinson kept the news of his signing a secret for almost two months – until Rickey and the Dodgers had taken care of other business matters and were ready to reveal the start of what was to be called baseballs great experiment. Their

revelation resulted in either outrage or jubilation all across America (Allen, l987).

“Everyone, it seemed, had an opinion about how integration would affect the game. Yet one simple question remained. Despite all of the talk about Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier, he had not yet played a single game for the Dodger organization (Allen,

l987). He still had to earn his way onto the major league roster. Spring training in l946 was to provide the first clue as to whether Robinson would succeed with the ‘experiment.’ He reported in February to pre-season camp in Florida, where strict segregation laws were still enforced, and immediately showed that he would handle the situation by saying, ‘I’m going there to play ball, not to live…I’ll be down there strictly as a ballplayer and will act

accordingly’ (Allen, l987). Still, he had to contend with the other ballplayers, coaches and the managers. In the spring of l946, the Dodger organization divided its training camp into two separate groups. The Dodgers trained in one group while the Royals practiced in another. In early March they met for the first time in an exhibition game (Allen, l987).

Robinson did not play very well in the game or in any other of the spring training games. Bothered by a sore arm as well as some unpleasant experiences – racist regulations in the South did not allow him to play in some of the ballparks – he looked as though he would have a very difficult time in integrated big league baseball (Allen, l987). The Montreal Royals opened the l946 International League season on April l8 against the hometown Jersey City Giants. The ballpark was not far from New York City and packed with nearly

30,000 fans. They had not only come to see the return of baseball after the war but to watch Jackie Robinson make his first minor league appearance (Allen, l987).”

“Robinson went four-for-five for the day as the Royals won, l4-l. He scored four runs, drove in three, and stole two bases, all the while exciting the crowd (Allen, 1987). ‘This would have been a big day for any man,’ The New York Times reported, ‘but under the

special circumstances, it was a tremendous feat.’”

“In his first game Jackie Robinson had shown everyone that he could play baseball (Allen, 1987). Outside Canada, fans were much less kind. At a game in Baltimore, Maryland, they yelled racial slurs at him for nine straight innings. In Indianapolis, Indiana,

he was pulled from a game because of a law prohibiting interracial athletics (Allen, 1987). In Syracuse, New York, an opposing player threw a black cat onto the field and hollered to Robinson that it was his cousin. The game was stopped by the umpire so that he could warn

the Syracuse players about their behavior (Allen, 1987).”

“The worst incident happened during the Little World Series, a seven-game series that pitched the Royals, champions of the international league, against the Louisville Colonels, winners of the American Association title (Allen, 1987). Racial tension had been

building in Louisville, Kentucky, before the series started, since the Colonels set quotas on how many black fans could attend home games. Robinson fell into a deep hitting slump and played poorly in the three games in Louisville (Allen, 1987). He said, ‘I had been booed pretty soundly before, but nothing like this. A torrent of mass hatred burst from the stands with virtually every move I made.’ He managed only one in eleven at-bats as the Royals lost

two of the first three games (Allen, 1987).”

“The Montreal fans heard about the abuse Robinson had suffered from the nearly all-white crowds in Louisville and were enraged. When the series returned to Canada, throngs of fans showed up to support Robinson in the remaining games (Allen, 1987). Each

time a Louisville player stepped up to bat, the crowd released a deafening chorus of boos. The fans support helped robinson to break his slump, and he in turn helped the Royals to battle back and win three straight games – and the championship. After the last win the

crowd poured onto the field chanting Robinson’s name. They then hoisted the young ballplayer above their shoulders and paraded him around the field (Allen, 1987).”

“As spring training approached in 1947, Branch Rickey planned Robinson’s move from the Montreal Royals to the Brooklyn Dodgers with great care. The Dodgers refused to accept Robinson – some even signed a petition stating that they would not play baseball if

Robinson were allowed on the team (Allen, 1987). Rickey was outraged and called the instigators of this action into his office, telling them that if they did not tear up the petition, they were off the team. The petition disappeared (Allen, 1987).”

“Robinson batted for the first time in the major leagues on April 15, 1947. He swung hard, lashed the ball sharply to the shortstop, and was thrown out by a half-step at first base. He made three more outs that first day and continued to play poorly through the first week of the season (Allen, 1987).”

“Many fans questioned his talents, and even Robinson began to wonder if he should be playing for the Dodgers. To add to his problems, Robinson soon faced one of his worst moments in his baseball career. It occurred during a three-game series with the Philadelphia Phillies at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn (Allen, 1987). During his first trip to home plate, Robinson was bombarded by racial taunts and insults. ‘I could scarcely believe my ears,’ he

said later. Almost as if it had been synchronized by some master conductor, hate poured forth from the Phillies dugout (Allen, 1987). Robinson felt helpless against such assaults, since a direct response would endanger the great experiment. He wondered, ‘What did the

Phillies want from me? What, indeed, did Mr. Rickey expect from me? I was, after all, a human being. What was I doing there turning the other cheek as though I weren’t a man?’ In his mind he played out a reply. ‘I could throw down my bat, stride over to that Phillies

dugout, grab one of [them]… and smash his teeth in with my despised black fist.’ Instead he breathed deeply and resumed playing (Allen, 1987). The moment was closest, Robinson said, that he came to using physical violence on the ball field. Although he remained silent, his teammates yelled back loudly at the Phillies on Robinson’s behalf (Allen, 1987).”

“After the game the Dodgers told some sports writers about the Phillies terrible conduct. Major newspapers ran editorials condemning Phillies manager Ben Chapman, while Robinson’s control and sportsmanship was great respect. The New York Daily Mirror

reported, ‘Jackie, with admirable restraint, ignored the guttersnipe language coming from the Phillies dugout, thus stamping himself as the only gentleman among those involved in the incident.’”

“Such animosity was not confined to that single incident (Allen, 1987). Richie Ashburn, a Phillies player who joined the club the following year, said, ‘When Jackie played second base, almost every Phillies runner went after him. “We thought it was the thing to

do. I nailed him on a double play one day and learned a valuable lesson. I cut him on his leg with my spikes. As he was lying there on the ground bleeding, I remembered thinking that his blood was the same color as mine. I vowed I would never intentionally try to injure

another ballplayer.’ The episode with Philadelphia served to unite the Dodgers. The players began to accept Robinson as a teammate and as a friend. What Branch Rickey had failed to accomplish with his intricate plans, the Philadelphia Phillies achieved with contemptible

behavior (Allen, 1987).”

“In one of baseball’s darkest moments, Jackie Robinson had become a welcome member of the Brooklyn Dodgers. However, not all ballplayers accepted Robinson’s presence. In may l947, the St. Louis Cardinals secretly conspired to hold a protest strike, voting to boycott a game with the Brooklyn Dodgers. They hoped other teams would follow suit and thereby force Robinson from the major leagues (Allen, l987). A newspaper discovered the plot and printed the story. Ford Frick, the National League president, immediately defended Robinson’s right to play major league baseball. ‘If you do this you will be suspended from the league,’ Frick told the St. Louis ballplayers (Allen, l987). ‘The National League will go down the line with Robinson whatever the consequences.’ It was the leagues strongest statement in defense of Robinson’s right to play baseball.”

“Supported by his teammates and league officials, Robinson gained confidence and soon began playing outstanding baseball. He ripped line drives and made spectacular defensive plays (Allen, l987). Dodger fans marveled at such athletic ability and began to

appreciate his value as a ballplayer. Black fans in particular loved Jackie Robinson. To them, he symbolized a new future. Robinson had cracked the white man’s world (Allen, l987). Now other blacks could follow. Robinson said, ‘In a very real sense, black people

helped make the experiment succeed. Many who came to the ballpark had not seen baseball fans before I began to play in the big leagues.”

“Suppressed and repressed for so many years, they needed a victorious black man as a symbol. It would help them believe in themselves (Allen, l987).” “The Dodgers went on to win the National League pennant that fall with Jackie hitting a .297 batting average, l25 scored runs and leading the league with 29 stolen bases (Allen, l987).” “He was also nominated Rookie of the Year and in l962, elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame (Tygiel, l983).”


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