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.
Happy Jackie Robinson Day!
Now and then, I find my entertainment through the web comic Cyanide & Happiness. As a general rule, the comic can be a bit crude, crass, and definitely not for children, so if that’s not your cup of tea, I wouldn’t recommend exploring the comic any further beyond this post.
The last short the comic put out, however, is actually quite warm and sweet, so I have no issues sharing it here. Absent dads can be hard on kids, but this Little Leaguer’s father finds a creative way to still play a role in his son’s baseball career.
I have been listening to a biography of Elon Musk on audiobook, and it certainly caught my attention when the audiobook mentioned that Musk had sponsored a documentary called Baseball in the Time of Cholera. I don’t know whether Musk actually has any interest in baseball, but apparently he had visited the area of the cholera outbreak in Haiti, bringing with him gifts for an orphanage. The documentary was made shortly after.
I managed to find the documentary on YouTube. It’s only about half-an-hour long and certainly worth the watch. The cholera outbreak in Haiti began in 2010, and from what I’ve been able to tell online, continued until May 2017. I do have to caution, this documentary is a bit grim (the baseball helps to lighten things up slightly). Nonetheless, things like this are important to be aware of in our world.
I have a handful of friends whom I’ve converted into baseball fans just by talking about the game. Fortunately for me, they all already had some familiarity with how the game works, so it was really just a matter of conveying my excitement. However, I know there are some folks out there who are completely unfamiliar with baseball, and I was pretty happy to come across this video. I’ll have to keep it in my back pocket for the day I meet someone who might be interested, but doesn’t know anything about this wonderful pastime.
Here’s a video from The New York Times I came across that describes what made Mariano Rivera such an effective closer. The video is wonderfully concise, yet explains the mechanics of Rivera’s cutter in an easy-to-follow manner complete with some excellent graphics.
This is a wonderfully succinct, yet broad sweeping look at the history of our national pastime. If you’re looking for an introduction to the development of this wonderful game, this is a great place to start. Even if you are familiar with the game and its past, this is still a refreshing review of the game.
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.