11 November 2009
Jackie Robinson: The Unexpected Hero
The name Jackie Robinson is recognized widely around the country. He is known as someone who broke the color barrier in American Baseball, and someone who fought through some of the toughest circumstances. He was an activist athlete, and used the sport of baseball to break down the traditional barriers and convey his ideas. To many, Robinson is a hero; one who Americans can relate to due to his background, his goals, and the opposition that he faced. His story is heartwarming, and instills in us the idea that anything is possible. Jackie Robison dealt with segregation and ridicule beginning at a very young age. His mother raised him and his four siblings by herself, as the only African American family on their block. As one of five, he was forced to learn how to take care of himself, and playing sports was his way of escape. Due to financial difficulties, he was not able to finish college, so he enlisted in the U.S. Army. He was not in the army for long, however, because he was court-martialed (later released), after refusing to make his way to the back of a military bus. Situations such as this made him stronger and more persistent in his efforts against racial discrimination. In 1945, after leaving the army, Robinson was signed to the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro Baseball League. In 1947, the president of the Brooklyn Dodgers found Robinson and asked him to join the team. Robinson accepted the opportunity, with the knowledge that being the first African American player in the Major Leagues in many years, he would face many challenges. Many had strong beliefs about segregation and what the status differences between African Americans and Caucasians entailed. Robinson knew all of this, and the road that he would have to endure. He was using his involvement in baseball to make America more aware of the racist situation in the country. He would later be called a “Revolutionist in a Baseball Suit.” With Jackie Robinson joining the sport that so many Americans followed and enjoyed, history was in the making. Professor Stephen Butler spoke about what made Jackie Robinson a hero to people while he was alive, as well as what has kept him a hero to people today. Robinson was a relatable person, coming from a humble background. It is more accessible to Americans to look up to someone who grew up in our neighborhoods, and dealt with the same situations we deal with every day. Once he joins the U.S. Army, he is separated from his family, immediately after that, he is separated again after he joining to Negro Baseball League. His mission is now to help aid the effort to desegregate the Major Leagues. Branch Rickey, the President of the Brooklyn Dodgers, becomes his mentor. He gives him the ability to play for the Major Leagues, and begin to reach his ultimate goal. While he played for the Dodgers he was met with ridicule and prejudice from those who were racist. Many were not ready for the change that Robinson was bringing about. For many years African Americans were not seen in the Major Leagues. People fell into this comfortable way of thinking, and Jackie Robinson was not welcome in their eyes. He was booed upon getting up to bat, and he was shouted at in the streets. Pitchers even threw balls at his head, and players tried to cut him with their cleats. Robinson faced much opposition, yet he never faltered. He was on a mission to end prejudice. Eventually, his teammates became his support, and they looked out for him and respected him as a man and a player. At the end of his life, Robinson had severe heart troubles, and he lost his eldest son in an automobile accident. Despite everything that he faced, he not only led the way in the desegregation of baseball, but his wish came true that an African American would be hired as a manager for a Major League team. Dave Zirin, an American sportswriter, brings up the historical and...