The Great American Baseball Trip

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Jackie Robinson



Major League Baseball has dedicated the 1997 season to the memory of Jackie Robinson and his historic breaking of the color barrier in baseball. Few will argue with the importance of this event, and even fewer will argue with Jackie Robinson's vital role in the history of baseball and the cultural history of the nation. But Jackie Robinson deserves our praise for another reason.

In addition to being the first black baseball player in the majors, Jackie Robinson was also one of the finest baseball players in the league. When he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1957, the team was in need of a strong leadoff hitter and defensive player. Jackie Robinson filled both roles and helped lead the Dodgers towards the pennant.

Jackie Robinson played in an era of unbelievable tension. Because of the color of his skin, Jackie Robinson wasn't allowed to stay in many of the hotels where the rest of the team lived whilethey were on the road. In addition, many of the other teams in the league refused to play against the Dodgers as long as Jackie was on the field. The fans would yell racial slurs and threats at him while he was playing, and some threw objects from the stands in an attempt to injury him.

Jackie Robinson set the standard for black ballplayers and baseball players everywhere. Yes, Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball. And yes, Jackie Robinson served as a role model to all black athletes in sports. But what I admire Jackie Robinson most for was his determination, in the face of great adversity, to be a great ballplayer. It mattered more to Jackie Robinson that he bat above .300 and contribute to his team's success, than to pave the way for other black athletes. Jackie Robinson saw himself as a member of a team.

In an era of big contracts, and a lack of player loyalty, the truest memory of Jackie Robinson, I believe, should be his legacy as a great ballplayer and leader on the field, and then as an positive influence in the community and for black athletes everywhere. While Jackie Robinson knew that the future of blacks in Major League Baseball depended on his willigness to fight the racism and hatred directed at him, he was more concerned, and rightly so, with the success of the Dodgers and his his role as a baseball player in that success.

As I travel around the country visiting ballparks, I will join fans and players in honoring Jackie Robinson and his memory during this 50th Anniversary Season of his historic feat. And as I attend ceremonies in honor of Jackie Robinson, and visit stadiums that have displays recognizing his accomplishments, I will be sure to display them on the page so everyone can share in this special season. But I hope that when I meet with fans and with executives from each team, that at least some will realize the importance of his accomplishments, and above all, his talent as a Major League ballplayer.

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What do you think about Jackie Robinson's influence on baseball?
Send me your comments!

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Links

-Major League Baseball's Jackie Robinson Page
-The Jackie Robinson Society
-Total Baseball's Jackie Robinson Page
-Jackie Robinson Home Page from CMG Worldwide

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