Jackie Robinson, football player

Before Jackie Robinson made his mark by breaking Major League Baseball’s color barrier, he was a four-sport star at UCLA, playing baseball, football, basketball, and running track.  He remains the only four-letter athlete in the school’s history.  In his final year playing football for the school, Robinson led the Bruins in rushing (383 yards), passing (444 yards), total offense (827 yards), scoring (36 points), and punt return average (21 yards).  You can see a bit of footage from Robinson’s football days at UCLA here:

Robinson even went on to play a bit of semi-pro football.  In September 1941, he moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, where he played football for the semi-professional Honolulu Bears for $100 a game. His career with the Bears was cut short, however, when Robinson was drafted into the Army during World War II.

After World War II, Robinson briefly returned to football with the Los Angeles Bulldogs.  He then was offered a job as athletic director at Samuel Houston College in Austin, and as part of that role, he coached the basketball team for the 1944-1945 season.

It was in early 1945 that the Kansas City Monarchs offered Jackie a place on their team in the Negro Leagues.  Robinson then signed with the minor league Montreal Royals following the 1945 season.

The rest, as we know, is history.

 

jackie-robinson

biography.com

 

Happy Jackie Robinson Day!


This day in baseball: YES network debut

The Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network (YES) made its debut on March 19, 2002.  As a team-owned network, YES would carry Yankees ball games as well as New Jersey Nets NBA games.

yes-network


Infographic: Sports injuries in kids

I work with a lady who recently was telling me about how relieved she felt the day her oldest son made the decision to quit playing football.  I think sports are important in terms of developing character, leadership, and teamwork, as well as maintaining a healthy populace.  But I certainly can understand a parent’s concern about injuries.  The numbers in this infographic are from 2012, but I imagine the numbers today are still relatively close.

safe kids


Infographic: The Changing Face of American Baseball

Here’s a good, and important, infographic from the Huffington Post that takes a look at the racial makeup of Major League Baseball.  Jackie Robinson may have broken the color barrier in 1947, but as the graphic points out, that didn’t change the economic barriers to playing baseball.  And, let’s be honest, this is an expensive sport.  On the other hand, Robinson’s debut into the majors did also open the doors for Latinos in the MLB, and given the talent it has introduced, this is definitely a great thing.

the-changing-face-of-american-baseball_534551d424d01_w1500.png


Sports ethics: Winning with Integrity symposium

Here is a fascinating panel discussion from last year that I watched late last night (too late — my poor sleep schedule).  Hosted by the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, this discussion encompasses all sports and the culture that surrounds athletic competition in general.  From children’s organized sports on up through the pros, these folks explore the problems of the idea of winning at all costs.

Clearly, we see, there are some issues when it comes to ethics in the world of sports.  When the majority of athletes self-report that they would be willing to take a pill to become Olympic-caliber athletes (with the caveat that they’d die in five years), we realize that our priorities are wholly out of whack.  When cheating does take place, nobody in sports wants to be a snitch, and the idea that “if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying” permeates the atmosphere.  How do the higher ups of an organization combat this attitude?

This discussion is long, but if you have the time to watch even a little bit of it, it is certainly worthwhile.


This day in baseball: The founding of Spalding sporting goods

Spending $800 to start, former baseball player Albert Spalding founded a sporting goods company on February 3, 1886.  Spalding became the manufacturer of the first official baseball, and would also become the first manufacturer of the official tennis ball, basketball, golf ball, and football.

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons


Infographic: Most Dangerous Sports

This infographic isn’t quite baseball-specific, but I do find it interesting to see how baseball ranks among other sports in terms of the “danger factor.”  Honestly, it surprises me to see hockey rank so low on these scales, but I guess they do wear quite a bit of protective gear.  Fatality rates did not make it onto the graphic, but given the focus on safety in all sports, this should barely be an issue.  But it still piques my interest.