Jackie Robinson as the African American to Play Major League Baseball
Jackie Robinson once said,’I’m not concerned with your liking or disliking of me… All I ask is that you respect me as a human being.”. Born on January 31st, 1919, in Cairo, Georgia on a plantation, Jackie Robinson was the youngest among his five siblings. His father Jerry Robinson left him and his siblings shortly after Jackie was born. His mother, Mallie Robinson, had taken control of the house, raised Jackie and his 3 brothers and his sister. Shortly after his father left, Jackie and the rest of the Robinson family were forced to move off the plantation in Georgia.
Mallie saw this an an opportunity to search for a better life for herself and her children. Eventually, the family settled in California where Mallies brother was living. They had purchased a house in Pasadena and were the only colored family on the street. Jackie and his siblings were singled out and seen as the troublemakers of the neighborhood for being people of color. Growing up, Jackie would watch his older brothers continuously excel in all sports. Once he himself reached the high-school level, Jackie followed in his brothers footsteps. He attended John Muir Technical High School and had excelled in track, football, baseball, tennis, and basketball.
Despite his extraordinary athletic ability on the court and on the field, he was racially segregated all throughout high school. Majority of his teammates on all of his teams were white and there was no injustice while he way playing, but it was while he was not playing where he felt the separation for being an African American. In 1937, once he graduated high school, he continued his studies and athletics at Pasadena Junior College where his athletic ability in basketball, football, baseball, and track only got better. Eventually, in 1939, he had received and accepted a scholarship from UCLA. Jackie became the first ever athlete to earn varsity letters in 4 sports at UCLA. Jackie had come to realize that he saw no athletics or collegiate studies in his near future, so he left UCLA.
He went on to pursue a career in professional football, but that had ended abruptly. He was soon drafted to the United States Army in 1942 and became involved in World War ll. After about 2 years of service, Jackie had left the Army. And there he went again, pursuing another professional athletic career. Except this time, it wasn’t for football, he chose baseball. He had joined the Kansas City Monarchs in 1952 as a shortstop. But unknowingly was anyone aware that the manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers was keeping his eye on Jackie. Soon, the manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Branch Rickey, had taken Jackie out to Brooklyn and offered him a spot on there minor league team, the Montreal Royal who were apart of the Negro Baseball League.
At this time, African Americans were not allowed to compete in the major leagues. Eventually, Branch had told Jackie that if he worked hard enough and was successful, he could play up in the major leagues. Although, Branch made it clear to Jackie that he would be facing all sorts of racism and insults. Among this conversation between Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson was a famous exchange of words with Jackie saying,”Mr. Rickey, what do you want? Do you want a ballplayer who is afraid to fight back?” and Rickey replies,”I want a ballplayer with enough guts to not fight back” (‘Robinson, Jackie.’ U*X*L Encyclopedia of U.S. History.
Encyclopedia.com. 2 Feb. 2019). Jackie had continued to play for the minor league team but he had faced much racial shame. People would yell at him, threaten him, and throw things at him. But with the man Jackie was, he held in his anger and did not let the shame get to him. In 1947, at the start of the major league season for the Dodgers, Jackie had been called up. On April 15th, 1947, Jackie Robinson was the first African American to play major league baseball. Jackie was still continuously shamed for being an African American by the players and fans.
Except Jackie did what Branch Rickey told him to do and that was to have the courage to not fight back. He just focused on baseball and ignored all of the racial shaming. Over the next years, Jackie Robinson had become one of the best players in major league baseball history. His ability to break through the racial barrier and his willingness to fight for the equality of all is why he was such a significant impact in the United States and the legacy he left behind with him.
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