This Saturday, April 15, while every Major League Baseball team will be celebrating the 70th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s achievement of breaking baseball’s color line, many Americans will be protesting in the streets as part of Tax Day.
Thank you, Professor Dreier, for a closer look at this milestone in our history, and why it is very relevant today!
The importance of Jackie Robinson to baseball and US:
- When given a chance, even with nearly all of white America jeering against him, talent will win out over bigotry. Branch Rickey wasn't some progressive humanitarian, he was a hard-nosed baseball executive who wanted players with the capacity to win and (in Robinson's case) the ability to not be distracted by the constant racist insults designed to break the concentration needed to play baseball at the major league level.
Rickey also led the charge to find superior talent from the Caribbean and Latin America for the same reason--to keep his teams competitive.
- Jackie led the way for the likes of Roy Campanella, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, and Frank Robinson, among many others.
That there aren't as many players of color in MLB as in earlier years is not because of racism (as it was in Robinson's day), it's because black and the rest of America has moved on from baseball being the national past time and replaced it with football and basketball instead (where African Americans make up a disproportionate number of players compared with their percentage of the population.