Jackie Robinson’s storied MLB career as told in 4 baseball seasons (2022)

Baseball is always shattering records.

One, though, can never be broken. Jackie Robinson will forever be the first Black man to play in Major League Baseball.

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Jackie Robinson’s storied MLB career as told in 4 baseball seasons (1)

Robinson’s astounding prowess on the diamond was matched by his ability to keep his cool despite the hideous racism he faced. “True: The Four Seasons of Jackie Robinson,” by Kostya Kennedy, chronicles Robinson’s life on and off the field.

This publishes Tuesday, just before Friday’s 75th anniversary of Robinson starting for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947. So much has been written about Robinson and those heady yet fraught days when he broke the entrenched racial barrier that a new angle was needed.

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Video: Jackie Robinson: The First African American to Play in the MLB | Mini Bio | BIO

It concentrates on four years for Robinson: 1946, playing in the minors for the Montreal Royals; 1949, winning MVP for the Brooklyn Dodgers; 1956, his final season and 1972, when he died at 53.

The deeply researched volume stresses what baseball fans noticed instantly — his stance. How he held the bat and his pigeon-toed gait would be copied by kids playing in streets and on fields around the country.

The book is a testament to how he conducted himself — when few people would have the self-control he mustered — and puts Robinson’s life into context.

Jackie Robinson’s storied MLB career as told in 4 baseball seasons (2)

“In those crucial years in the middle of the twentieth century, America — relieved, proud, post-traumatized — was moving headlong past World War II and at the same time trying to lurch forward, out of the grips of its worst and grimmest sin, to find a way to bend the arc of its own moral history toward justice,” Kennedy writes. “The experience of the war was material both to appetite for change and the resistance to it.”

The modern civil rights movement had yet to begin. When Robinson took the field, Martin Luther King Jr., was only 18. Sure, baseball was America’s pastime, but it could get pretty ugly, depending on who was playing and who was in the ballpark.

Before players had all kinds of protective gear, Robinson’s cap had “a lining of thick cloth and fiberglass, a minimal defense against the pitches that came toward his head, thrown with intent.”

Throughout the book, as Kennedy details some memorable games, he recounts pitchers who took aim at Robinson, other players who used their cleats to draw blood and how he was denied basic services when the team traveled. Robinson could not stay in some hotels with the team, could not eat in the same restaurants.

Video: THE JACKIE ROBINSON STORY (1950) | Full Length Classic Biography / Drama Movie | English

Jackie Robinson’s storied MLB career as told in 4 baseball seasons (3)

Before Branch Rickey brought him to the Brooklyn Dodgers, Robinson spent a year with the Montreal Royals. Before that, Robinson became UCLA’s first athlete to letter in four sports — baseball, basketball, football and track.

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As a UCLA senior, in the fall of 1940, he met Rachel, a freshman. They were together until his death in 1972, and truly a team onto themselves, which the book explains.

Over the decades, Rachel was his partner in every aspect, working with him for civil rights, raising money for causes and rearing their children. They endured so much together and publicly, no matter how angry or scared, they presented themselves as utterly composed.

As dignified as they were, and as important to bringing about change, what the world saw first was Robinson on the field. In motion, he was magic.

“Of all the attributes that attended Jackie Robinson’s play on the baseball diamond — and there were many — none stood out so magnificently, at the time or in memory, in legend and in fact, as the way that he ran the bases. Nothing else he did as a ballplayer quite so profoundly impacted both the games that he played and, it must be said, the lives of those who saw him play. Robinson could change a game with a feint.”

Jackie Robinson’s storied MLB career as told in 4 baseball seasons (4)
Video: “ JACKIE ROBINSON ” 1963 BIOGRAPHY TV EPISODE 1st AFRICAN AMERICAN IN MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL XD45434

Kennedy goes into detail about the kids who grew up going to Ebbets Field, and who decades after seeing Robinson play still talked about him reverentially. ACLU boss Ira Glasser was one of those Brooklyn kids. Kennedy’s research has him explaining the old neighborhoods, when you could buy whitefish in one store, comics at another and get a 15-cent haircut.

The tangents remind us of the times. Even those who don’t understand the allure of baseball, need to know the importance of this man.

In his rookie year in 1947, Robinson led the National League in stolen bases. By ‘49, he did so for all of baseball. He regularly stole second, third and even home.

“No one in the league got thrown out more than Robinson did,” Kennedy writes. “‘Don’t worry if you get caught,’ Branch Rickey said. And Jackie did not worry. High volume was part of the strategy.”

He played in games where kids climbed to rooftops that overlooked ballparks, where people crowded outside, as he continued to steal bases and hit consistently. Rickey called him “the best since Ty Cobb.”

Jackie Robinson’s storied MLB career as told in 4 baseball seasons (5)

Fans, of course, knew. Dodgers pitcher Carl Erskine recalls a kid handing him six items to sign. Why? The kid planned to trade Erskine’s six for one Jackie Robinson autograph.

Video: Fighting To Preserve Black Baseball History 75 Years After Jackie Robinson Integrated MLB

Off the field, Robinson continued to say what was on his mind. On July 18, 1949, he testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee about Paul Robeson. While opposed to Robeson’s leftist views, Robinson explained that as a baseball player he didn’t like becoming embroiled in politics.

“You can put me down as an expert on being a colored American, with thirty years of experience at it,” Robinson stated. “And just like any other colored person with sense enough to look around him and understand what he sees, I know that life in these United States can be mighty tough for people who are a little different from the majority — in their skin color or the way they worship their God or the way they spell their name.”

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As he later wrote to President Eisenhower: “We want to enjoy now the rights we feel we are entitled to as Americans.”

Robinson’s final hit of his Dodgers’ career came in Game Six of the 1956 World Series against the Yankees. The next day, the Yankees won the series. When he returned to Ebbets Field, Robinson cleared out his gear. Although traded to the New York Giants, it didn’t much matter. Robinson had decided to leave on his terms. He took a post as vice president overseeing personnel at Chock Full o’ Nuts.

When Robinson left baseball, he continued on the national stage as a beacon of leadership and spoke forcefully, quietly and effectively about racism. After teammate and friend Gil Hodges’ 1972 death, Robinson had been openly critical of how MLB, even 15 years after his final game, had no Black managers.

Jackie Robinson’s storied MLB career as told in 4 baseball seasons (6)

He attended the Old-Timers Day in 1972 in Los Angeles, where the respect for him was palpable. Robinson quietly, forcefully pushed for what is right.

Video: How Jackie Robinson Broke the Color Barrier and Changed Baseball Forever

As the Rev. Jesse Jackson said eulogizing Robinson, “He didn’t integrate baseball for himself. He infiltrated baseball for all of us, seeking and looking for more oxygen for Black survival, and looking for new possibility.”

And the great No. 42 continues to remind us. Visitors to his gravesite at Brooklyn’s Cypress Hills Cemetery can see his epitaph: “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”

FAQs

Jackie Robinson’s storied MLB career as told in 4 baseball seasons?

It concentrates on four years for Robinson: 1946, playing in the minors for the Montreal Royals; 1949, winning MVP for the Brooklyn Dodgers; 1956, his final season and 1972, when he died at 53. The deeply researched volume stresses what baseball fans noticed instantly — his stance.

Was Jackie Robinson good at baseball?

He won National League MVP honors in 1949, leading the league with a . 342 average and 37 steals while scoring 122 runs and driving in 124. Over his first seven seasons, he scored 773 runs, more than any player in baseball except Stan Musial.

How was Jackie Robinson's contribution to baseball significant to the game and significant in history?

Jackie Robinson was an African American professional baseball player who broke Major Leagues Baseball's infamous “color barrier” when he started at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947. Until that time, professional ballplayers of color suited up for teams only in the Negro Leagues.

Was Jackie Robinson the first black MLB player?

Jack Roosevelt Robinson (January 31, 1919 – October 24, 1972) was an American professional baseball player who became the first African American to play in Major League Baseball (MLB) in the modern era.

Why is Jackie Robinson so recognized in the game of baseball?

On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson, age 28, becomes the first African American player in Major League Baseball's modern era when he steps onto Ebbets Field in Brooklyn to compete for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Robinson broke the color barrier in a sport that had been segregated for more than 50 years.

Who is the greatest baseball player of all time?

Babe Ruth, Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees

It should come as no surprise that “The Sultan of Swat” tops our list of the best baseball players of all time. He posted Hall of Fame-caliber numbers in his first five seasons with the Boston Red Sox (981 OPS, 190 OPS+.

Who is the best player of baseball?

10 Greatest Baseball Players of All Time
  • Stan Musial. Stan Musial. ...
  • Ty Cobb. Ty Cobb. ...
  • Walter Johnson. Walter Johnson. ...
  • Hank Aaron. Hank Aaron. ...
  • Ted Williams. Ted Williams has long been called “the greatest pure hitter who ever lived.” His . ...
  • Barry Bonds. Barry Bonds. ...
  • Willie Mays. Willie Mays. ...
  • Babe Ruth. Babe Ruth. Babe Ruth.

Who was the 1st black baseball player?

Jackie Robinson wasn't the only Black baseball player to suit up in the big leagues in 1947. After he broke the color line and became the first Black baseball player to play in the American major leagues during the 20th century, four other players of color soon followed in his footsteps.

How did Jackie Robinson changed baseball?

The first baseball player to break the color barrier in 60 years, he paved the way for many future African-American and minority athletes. His career helped the upcoming Civil Rights Movement by giving Americans a heroic African- American sports figure to rally around.

What was Jackie Robinson's greatest achievement?

Jackie Robinson was the first African American to play Major League Baseball in the United States during the 20th century. On April 15, 1947, he broke the decades-old “colour line” of Major League Baseball when he appeared on the field for the National League Brooklyn Dodgers in a game against the Boston Braves.

Who was the 2nd Black MLB player?

Perhaps no one is more remembered for being second than Larry Doby. He was the second African-American to play in the National League or American League – but the first in the AL – in the modern era after Jackie Robinson.

Who was the first Black Yankee player?

Elston Howard

Who was the last MLB team to integrate?

The Boston Red Sox were the last major league team to integrate, holding out until 1959, a few months after the Detroit Tigers.

Who really broke the color barrier in baseball?

For baseball fans, civil rights activists and anyone who has seen the movie "42," it's considered common knowledge that Jackie Robinson broke Major League Baseball's color barrier when he took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.

Who broke the color barrier in baseball?

Seventy-five years ago, Jackie Robinson trotted out to his position at first base as the Brooklyn Dodgers opened their 1947 season at Ebbets Field.

How many times was Jackie Robinson hit by a pitch?

Jackie was hit-by-pitches a total of 72 times during his career. 45. Robinson stole home plate trice in 1947, five times in 1948 and 1949, once in 1950, 1951, 1952, 1954, 1955 and 1956.

Has any pitcher ever won 3 games in the World Series?

Having completed Game 7, Lolich became the 12th pitcher to win three games in a World Series, and the last with three complete games in a single Series. He was the last pitcher with three victories in the same World Series until Randy Johnson won 3 games in the 2001 World Series.

Who is the MLB goat?

Baseball's 100 Greatest Players
Baseball's 100 Greatest Players by The Sporting News (1998)
RankName
2Willie Mays
1Babe Ruth
RankName
49 more rows

Who is the best shortstop of all time?

Ranking the Best Shortstops in Baseball History
  1. Honus Wagner. Happy birthday to The Flying Dutchman.
  2. Cal Ripken Jr. Cal Ripken Jr, 1983 @Orioles pic.twitter.com/bjUArPgk2p. ...
  3. Ozzie Smith. Ozzie Smith and all his gold pic.twitter.com/9huJEwYpJC. ...
  4. Ernie Banks. ...
  5. Derek Jeter. ...
  6. Alex Rodriguez. ...
  7. Luke Appling. ...
  8. Robin Yount. ...
Mar 7, 2022

Has anyone ever hit a 600 foot home run?

No estimate has ever been given for its length, although it is safe to say it was easily over 500 feet, and may have approached 600 feet. A tremendous blast by any standards. In a single game Mantle hit two homers that were longer than most major league players hit in a career!

Is Jackie Robinson in the Hall of Fame?

Jackie Robinson

Who has the best infield in baseball?

Judging strictly by projected WAR, here are the top 10 infields in the Major Leagues.
  • Los Angeles Dodgers: 16.7.
  • Toronto Blue Jays: 16.7.
  • Boston Red Sox: 15.2.
  • New York Mets: 15.1.
  • Atlanta Braves: 14.9.
  • Texas Rangers: 14.7.
  • San Diego Padres: 14.6.
  • Minnesota Twins: 14.2.
Mar 25, 2022

Who is the best Black baseball player ever?

Willie Mays

There is no finer all-around player in MLB history than Mays, a 24-time All-Star who collected 660 home runs, had eight consecutive 100 RBI seasons, and earned 12 Gold Glove Awards, most ever by an outfielder.

Who was the 3rd Black baseball player?

3. Hank Thompson – 1947-1956.

How did Dodgers get name?

According to the club, the name originated in 1896 as the Brooklyn Trolley Dodgers. Heavy construction of electric trolley tracks in front of Eastern Park caused fans to dodge the trolleys to reach the park. Those fans became known as Trolley Dodgers and the team took on the name, which was shortened to Dodgers.

Is Jackie Robinson a Hall of Famer?

- On July 23, 1962, Jackie Robinson is inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

How many times did Jackie Robinson get hit?

Jackie was hit-by-pitches a total of 72 times during his career.

Videos

1. The Gil Hodges Story | Soul of Champion (Full Documentary)
(Spirit Juice)
2. The Jackie Robinson Story (1950) | Biography | Jackie Robinson, Ruby Dee, Minor Watson
(Hollywood Classics)
3. Jackie Robinson Is Weirdly Underrated | Baseball Bits
(Foolish Baseball)
4. Jackie Robinson (AMAZING MLB Baseball Sports Documentary)
(Baseball Doc)
5. Jackie Robinson Day Celebration (1955 World Series Film) | #MLBAtHome
(MLB)

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