Some people would view Jackie Robinson as a very safe African-American, a docile figure who had a tendency to try to get along with everyone, and when you look at his history, you learn that he has this fire that allows him to take this punishment but also figure out savvy ways of giving it back.
In honor of Major League Baseball’s celebration of Jackie Robinson yesterday, and in memory of Chadwick Boseman, who passed away yesterday and who had played Robinson in the movie 42, here’s a short piece I found about Robinson and his role in baseball and in society.
He never asked to be a hero For him, playing ball would be just fine Potentially his chance was less than zero To overcome that black-white racist line
Unlike Duke, Dimag and Mickey Jackie entered through back doors The stage was set by Mr. Rickey For Robinson to fight that Civil War
Sports, they say, mirrors society So, they should have hung their heads in shame For what was then America’s propriety Brought prejudice to every game
The Brooklyn Bums, at long last, found salvation When Robinson’s talents were revealed With the awesome double-play combination Reese and Jackie brought to Ebbetts Field
Stealing fan’s hearts with baseball fire Displaying skills in every way Robinson played with such desire Stealing bases most every day
They could never expect from him the expected He turned the most racist hate to love And finally he was most respected Respect that came from more than bat and glove
For Jackie, baseball was more than just a game He opened doors for Campy, Mays and others Number 42, now in the Hall of Fame Proved men of all colors could play in life as brothers
On August 28, 1921, John Michaelson became the first person born in Finland to play in a major league game. The 27-year-old White Sox right-hander from Taivalkoski would only appear in two games, however. Michaelson posted an ERA of 10.12 in his two appearances for the Chicago team.
Here’s a fun little limerick for your reading enjoyment. I, for one, am appreciative of the laugh this morning. Personally, I’ve always rooted for Ketchup in the Hot Dog Derby. Relish is my least favorite (to this day, I despise anything pickled), but somehow Relish seems to win a lot of the time. Ick!
With Baseball hotdogs on the run Caught up in, excitement and fun Watch where you go Before you know You might slip and fall on your bun!
The youngest player in MLB history to hit a home run was Tommy Brown of the Dodgers, who accomplished the feat on August 20, 1945. Brown was 17 years, eight months, and 14 days old on the day of the blast. The Brooklyn shortstop started his career as a 16-year-old high school student, and his homer proved to be the only run Brooklyn would score that day off the Pirates lefty, Preacher Roe. Roe pitched a complete game in the 11-1 rout of the Dodgers at Ebbets Field.
This song is dripping with satire as it tells about the Steroid Era of Major League Baseball. It seems vaguely familiar to me, and it’s quite possible that I heard this on the radio on my drive to work at some point. The song has been featured on radio stations all over the country. To complement the hilarity of the song and its lyrics, someone put together this slideshow to watch as you listen.
I recently finished making my way through Jane Leavy’s biography on the Great Bambino himself, entitled The Big Fella. Like anyone else, I have heard most of the stories, I’m aware of the ballplayer’s legendary status, and as a kid, I memorized the list of nicknames spouted off by the kids of The Sandlot. However, this is the first actual Babe Ruth biography I have ever read.
Fair warning: this biography is quite the tome. It’s not quite War and Peace, but sitting at over 600 pages, it’s not exactly Animal Farm, either. In my opinion, though, the journey through this volume is worth the time. Using the barnstorming tour Babe Ruth took with Lou Gehrig after the 1927 World Series as the framework for the book, Leavy injects details about Ruth’s life and analysis about his personality and character to paint a broad and detailed portrait of the man and the ballplayer.
My favorite feature of this book lies in how human it portrays the Babe. Ruth often gets depicted as this happy-go-lucky, larger-than-life figure who transcends not only baseball, but American culture itself. Not that Leavy ignores this facet of Ruth’s character. In fact, she goes into great detail about how this perception of the Babe pervaded American thought even during his lifetime. Ruth certainly lived large, and the public loved him so much, the press even willingly kept many of his indiscretions quite. When some of those indiscretions did leak out, fans were more than willing to overlook them, finding these to be a part of the ballplayer’s charm.
Leavy’s biography doesn’t focus just on this, however. Ruth’s life, especially as a youth, was not an easy one. The author includes stories about his birth, early youth, his life at St. Mary’s, and his introduction to professional baseball. She also talks about Ruth’s drinking and womanizing, and while she doesn’t forgive the Babe for these, Leavy does juxtapose that side of Ruth with his affinity for playing with and helping kids.
The book also delves deeply into Ruth’s relationship with his manager, Christy Walsh. We get an overview of Ruth’s personal finances, and Leavy demonstrates how much the Babe profited from Christy Walsh’s management. She conveys the impact Ruth and Walsh had on popular culture, foreshadowing the celebrity-obsessed society that followed them and continues to pervade our world today.
Leavy also does a good job giving us a glimpse into the Babe’s shortcomings as a family man and the impact this had on his daughters. There is also a great exploration of Ruth’s life after baseball, including the disappointments he faced as he continuously got turned down for management roles. Leavy goes into detail about his final days, as well, discussing his illness and, ultimately, his death.
Overall, I was impressed. I did, at times, wish that the structure of the book followed a more linear path, rather than bouncing around Ruth’s life the way that it does, but given the amount of research and detail included in these pages, it’s a shortcoming I’m willing to overlook.