A few nights ago, in recognition of the 75th Anniversary of Jackie Robinson joining the Brooklyn Dodgers, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum hosted a panel of authors who discussed the legacy of Jackie Robinson. The discussion covered more than just Jackie Robinson the baseball player. These gentlemen also delved into Robinson’s role in the Civil Rights Movement and what he would think of the Black Lives Matter movement today.
I missed the live stream of the panel, but fortunately, the video is still available through YouTube. It’s worth a listen, if you’re interested. There are a few ads in the beginning of the stream, so if you want to skip right to the content, it begins at 6:10.
Jackie Robinson’s first major league steal of home plate came against the Pittsburgh Pirates on June 24, 1947. The Brooklyn Dodgers would go on to win that game 4-2 over the Pirates at Forbes Field. Robinson would steal the dish a total of 19 times over the course of his career.
In case you missed it, a couple nights ago, the Bob Kendrick and the Negro Leagues Museum hosted a virtual panel featuring Ken Burns, Bob Costas, Joe Posnanski, and CC Sabathia. These gentlemen talked primarily about Buck O’Neil, telling stories about when they first met O’Neil and what he was like as a person. They also talked about Jackie Robinson, the Negro Leagues, the breaking of the color barrier in Major League Baseball, and blacks in baseball today.
A recording of the stream can be found on YouTube and is definitely worth a listen if you enjoy hearing stories about baseball.
On June 7, 1957, Howard University awarded honorary Doctor of Law degrees to Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and to recently-retired Dodgers infielder Jackie Robinson. In the years that followed, the former baseball great and the Baptist minister frequently appeared together at Civil Rights rallies, fundraising events, and demonstrations.
Baseball isn’t just the stats. As much as anything else, baseball is the style of Willie Mays, or the determination of Hank Aaron, or the endurance of a Mickey Mantle, the discipline of Carl Yastrzemski, the drive of Eddie Mathews, the reliability of a (Al) Kaline or a (Joe) Morgan, the grace of a (Joe) DiMaggio, the kindness of a Harmon Killebrew, and the class of Stan Musial, the courage of a Jackie Robinson, or the heroism of Lou Gehrig. My hope for the game is that these qualities will never be lost.
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