Black History Month: Jackie Robinson

Jackie Robinson was an inspiration to African Americans all throughout baseball. He showed players that not only white men can play baseball. He fought through the discrimination and ridicule from white men and women to become a legend in baseball. 

Robinson started in what was referred to as the “Negro leagues” back when organized baseball was segregated, where he was an all-star. The Brooklyn Dodgers, current day Los Angeles Dodgers) would sign him to a deal that allowed him to play over 150 games at the age of 28. Robinson would finish the year as the rookie of the year and fifth in MVP voting. In his career: he won a World Series, an MVP, a batting title and was a six-time all-star. Later on in his career, every team would retire his number to show their appreciation. He inspired African Americans to be not afraid of baseball and how to fight past the discrimination of their skin color. 

Players today are still influenced by Robinson and his breaking down of the color barriers. The MLB every year holds a day where everyone wears the number 42 to honor Robinson on the day he played his first game as a pro baseball player. Without Robinson, we would’ve never seen players like Roberto Clemente, Barry Bonds, Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr., Rickey Henderson or even current players like Mookie Betts, who would never have played. One of the most notable players to be influenced by Robinson is Mariano Rivera, the all-time leader in saves New York Yankees closer. Rivera was the last one to wear Robinson’s number.

One thing I will always remember is wearing No. 42 and representing Mr. Robinson,” Rivera said. “He, I assume, was the first No. 42 elected, and me being the last player to wear No. 42 and being elected to the Hall of Fame unanimously is amazing.” 

In the sports world, Robinson will always be remembered as a legend in the Major Leagues. He showed integrity, strength and determination in his journey to the Majors, and when there, he made it count. It inspired many to be like him and will continue to inspire many more as long as baseball is around.