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Jackie Robinson: Racial Equality In Sports Essay

April 15, 1997, a day that baseball will always remember. This was the day that Jackie Robinson’s number was retired. The historic #42 was retired for all teams. It was a game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Mets at Shea Stadium (Muder). Commissioner Bud Selig declared that it would be retired throughout baseball. This was the 68th anniversary of Jackie’s first game as a Dodger (Muder). African American baseball legend, Jackie Robinson, paved the way for racial equality in sports. Jack Roosevelt “Jackie” Robinson was born on January 31, 1919 in Cairo, Georgia.

Jackie was born into a poor family, and he was the youngest of four siblings. Jackie’s parents were Mallie and Jerry Robinson (Biography. com Editors). Jackie attended John Muir High School and later attended Pasadena Junior College. He played four sports: football, basketball, track, and baseball, and he even won the region MVP in 1938 (Biography. com Editors). He was inspired in his athletic career by his older brother, Matthew. Matthew was a runner who competed in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. He won silver in the 200 meter dash, just behind Jesse Owens (Biography. com Editors).

After Pasadena Junior College, Jackie went on to attend UCLA. Jackie was also involved in athletics (Biography. com Editors). He became the first ever student to receive varsity letters in four sports. He, however, had to leave just shy of graduation due to financial hardships. After leaving UCLA, Jackie played semi-professional football with the Honolulu Bears (Biography. com Editors). In 1942, Jackie was drafted into the military. He was assigned to a segregated cavalry unit in Kansas. He applied for a higher rank, and he served as a second lieutenant till 1944 (Biography. com).

He did not see any action. He was arrested and court martialled in 1944 for not giving up his seat and moving to the back of a segregated bus. Jackie was later acquitted of his charges and received an honorable discharge (Biography. com Editors). After baseball, Jackie retired to a simpler life. He became an executive of the Chock Full O’ Nuts coffee company and restaurant chain. He died of heart problems and diabetes complications on October 24, 1972 in Stamford, Connecticut (Biography. com Editors). Jackie Robinson originally played professional baseball in the Negro Leagues.

He played for the Kansas City Monarchs in 1945. Later that year, Brooklyn Dodgers’ manager, Branch Rickey came to Jackie to offer for him to play for the Montreal Royals which was a farm team for the Dodgers (Biography. com Editors). In his first year as a Royal, Jackie led the International League with a . 349 batting average and a . 985 fielding percentage. Jackie joined the Dodgers for the 1947 season (Biography. com Editors). He was placed in the lineup for his first game by interim manager, Clyde Sukeforth, who was replaced by Burt Shotten (Muder). Clyde admired Mr.

Robinson, and he once said, “There was something about that man that just gripped you. He was tough, he was intelligent, and he was proud” (Muder). Jackie went 0-for-3 in his first game, but he handled all eleven chances he had at first base (Muder). In his first year in the Major League, Jackie won the Rookie of the Year Award. He played one hundred fifty-one games, scored one hundred twenty-five runs, and he stole twenty-nine bases which led the league. He had a . 297 batting average and hit twelve home runs (Muder). Jackie was very competitive.

He said, “Above all, I hate to lose. Katz et al 210). He was a leader on the team. During his ten seasons, he helped the Dodgers to six pennants and a World Series victory in 1955. He won the MVP Award in 1949 (Katz et al 210). Jackie became the highest paid player in Dodgers’ history at the time (Biography. com Editors). After ten seasons, Jackie ended his career on January 5, 1957. He played mainly for the Dodgers, but he was traded to the Giants for his last season. He batted a career . 311, and he stole home an incredible 19 times (Biography. com Editors). Jackie paved the way for racial equality.

He became the first black player in the Major Leagues. When he signed with the Dodgers, he agreed to Branch Rickey’s request to not fight back to racism. Branch Rickey told him, “Jackie, we’ve got no army. There’s virtually nobody on our side. No owners, no umpires, very few newspapermen. And I’m afraid that many fans will be hostile. We can convince the world that I’m doing this because your a great ballplayer, a fine gentleman” (Katz et al 208). Jackie was able to take the abuse without fighting back, “I’m not concerned with your liking or disliking me..

All I ask is that you respect me as a human being” (“Jackie Robinson Quotes”). Jackie kept his word and did not fight back even though faced serious attacks. Rickey first tested how he would respond to racism. He was jeered, some teammates objected, and he and his family received death threats (Biography. com Editors). Many players, even some of his own teammates, refused to play with him, but Dodgers’ owner, Leo Durocher, said that he would sooner trade them rather than Jackie. In one incident, Philadelphia Phillies players and their manager yelled racist and erogatory terms to Robinson (Biography. om Editors).

Even through all these attacks, Jackie received support. He was defended by League President Ford Frick, baseball commissioner Happy Chandler, Detroit Tigers’ first basemen Hank Greenberg, and Dodgers’ team captain and shortstop Pee Wee Reese. In one game, while facing jeers from the crowd, Reese walked out and put his arm around Robinson (Biography. com Editors). Jackie continued his fight against discrimination outside of baseball. In 1949, he testified about discrimination before the House Un-American Activities

Committee, and in 1952, he called out the Yankees as a racist organization for not yet breaking the color barrier (Biography. com Editors). He was a “… Vocal champion for African-American athletes, civil rights, and other social and political causes. ” (Biography,com Editors). Jackie’s inspiring life left a lasting legacy. His career opened the door for other African-American players like Satchel Paige, Hank Aaron, and Willie Mays (Biography. com Editors). Sportswriter, Red Smith once said, “Robinson’s arrival in Brooklyn was a turning point in the history and the character of the game. Muder).

In 1962, Jackie was inducted into the Hall of Fame in the first year of eligibility (Katz et al 209). The Dodgers retired Jackie’s number, “42”, in 1972. His wife founded the Jackie Robinson Foundation which helps young people in need providing scholarship and mentoring programs (Biography. com Editors). The MLB renamed the Rookie of the Year Award to the Jackie Robinson Award in 1987 (Katz et al 209). In 2013, a movie called “42” was dedicated to Jackie’s inspiring life. African American baseball legend, Jackie Robinson, paved the way for racial equality in sports.

Jackie Robinson, even before baseball Jackie faced racism. He faced it in sports, and he faced it in his military life. Jackie was a baseball legend. Through all the attacks, he still played as one of the greatest players of all time. Jackie was lightning fast on the basepaths, a vacuum in the field, and a great overall player. He was able to take all the attacks and pave the way for racial equality, and after his career, he left a lasting legacy that continues till today. Jackie changed the way people thought with African-Americans in sports, and he will always be remembered for his bravery.

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