White Sox Wednesday: Jackie Robinson’s Impact on All of Baseball

White Sox Wednesday: Jackie Robinson’s Impact on All of Baseball

by April 15, 2020 0 comments

This White Sox Wednesday, given the significance of the date (April 15), the only fitting player to spotlight is Jackie Robinson.

Given the fact that many of the players who have been spotlighted on White Sox Wednesdays may not have existed without Jackie Robinson in the first place, this is clearly the most fitting player for today’s piece.

On April 15, 1947, at 28 years old, Jackie Robinson made his MLB debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers, becoming the first African-American to play in Major League Baseball. But it was not without dismay and outright hatred from opponents and even many of his own teammates. In a time when the racial issues were bigger than the game of baseball, Robinson and those who were supporters of him received death threats but took it in stride.

Robinson could have broken baseball’s color barrier a few years sooner but instead served his country as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army from 1942 to 1944.

Fast forward to present day, a good 73 years after Robinson’s debut, and the current state of sports is at a standstill with the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the crisis, Robinson’s No. 42 remains a constant mark at all 30 big-league stadiums. The number, of course, has also been retired league-wide.

The first Jackie Robinson Day took place in 2004. That began the annual tradition throughout Major League Baseball and an inspirational reminder about what happened on that day in 1947.

April 15 is normally the day when all players don No. 42 on their backs to pay homage to the man who single-handedly paved the way for many of today’s players, as well as many of the game’s legends that have come in between.

When all was said and done, Robinson played 10 seasons in the majors. He won the Rookie of the Year Award in his first season in 1947 and was selected to six straight National League All-Star teams. He was named National League MVP in 1949 and was a member of the 1955 World Series Champion Dodgers team.

In his decade in the big leagues, he had over 1,500 hits and posted a career .311 batting average. He also posted a career .983 fielding percentage. What makes that percentage more impressive is that Robinson spent significant time at every position on the field, except catcher and pitcher; that is even further proof of the talent that Robinson possessed.

Robinson was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962. He passed away on October 24, 1972, at the age of 53.

We polled two of our fellow Prime Time Sports Talk staffers regarding what the name Jackie Robinson means to them.

Kyle Porch said, “Bulldog mentality [and] the ability to keep on pushing when half the country refuses to acknowledge you. A true warrior.”

Jarrett Bailey chimed in by saying, “There’s a reason baseball has a day where everyone wears No. 42. Baseball, and perhaps the world as we know it, wouldn’t be the way it is today without Jackie Robinson.”

In this uncharted time, take a moment to remember and honor the man who paved the way for many of the sport’s greatest players, greatest accomplishments, and greatest moments.

Before Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, and the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, there was Jackie Robinson. In the late 1940s, he shattered the preexisting color barrier in baseball. That is why he and his No. 42 are significant and celebrated.

Thank you, Jackie.

Husband, father of 3 and an avid sports fan. Living out my childhood dream of writing about sports, now that I'm in my forties.

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