65 Years Today On a Baseball Field in Brooklyn, Jackie Robinson Helped to Change America

Apr 15, 2012
7:18 am

To those who grew up in a baseball word, whether in New York City, Santo Domingo, Caracas, San Juan, Los Angeles or anywhere else where talk consisted of RBI, HRs, and ERAs, April 15, 1947 is one of baseball's most famous dates. All because a Black man ran onto Brooklyn's Ebbets Field with eight of his white teammates.

Copyright: The Los Angeles Dodgers

Jackie Robinson became the first Black ballplayer to play professionally for Major League Baseball. MLB, now the league of millionaires and free agents, will forever be part of this country's history of race relations.

In every ballpark today, MLB celebrates Jackie Robinson day. It writes:

Major League Baseball is commemorating Jackie Robinson Day on Sunday, April 15, 2012 with a League-wide 65th anniversary recognition of Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson breaking the game's color barrier in 1947. To highlight this special occasion, all players and on-field personnel will once again wear Number 42. Additionally, MLB will release a new national public service announcement voiced by Hall of Fame Broadcaster Vin Scully, will host a baseball and softball clinic for youth from select Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) programs in the New York area, and Clubs will hold special ceremonies in MLB ballparks around the country, including one featuring the Robinson family at Yankee Stadium.

"When Jackie Robinson took the field in Brooklyn 65 years ago, he transcended the sport he loved and helped change our country in the most powerful way imaginable," said Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig. "It is a privilege for Major League Baseball to celebrate Jackie's enduring legacy each year, and we are proud that every April 15th, our young fans around the world have an opportunity to learn everything that the Number 42 stands for – courage, grace and determination."

"It gives us great pride to commemorate the 65th anniversary of Jack's barrier-breaking accomplishments," said Rachel Robinson, Jackie's wife and Founder of the Jackie Robinson Foundation. "This anniversary serves as a reminder of Jack's enduring legacy and the profound impact he had on America. It is my hope that this commemoration serves as an inspiration to all as we look to unite behind our common goals."

All Clubs playing at home on Sunday, April 15th will commemorate Jackie Robinson Day with special pregame ceremonies in their ballparks. Home Clubs will feature Jackie Robinson Day jeweled bases and lineup cards, and a special video will be shown in-stadium highlighting Jackie's story and nine values. Clubs not playing at home on April 15th will hold Jackie Robinson Day commemorations at their ballparks during another homestand later in the month. The Robinson family will join MLB in a special Jackie Robinson Day celebration at Yankee Stadium, prior to the 8:05 p.m. (ET) Sunday Night Game on ESPN featuring the New York Yankees against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The ceremony will include Rachel and Sharon Robinson, Jackie's daughter, MLB Educational Programming Consultant and Vice Chair of the Jackie Robinson Foundation.

As for the Rebels, our love for Robinson goes beyond his historic accomplishment. Jackie was also one damn good ballplayer. He fought the hate with his baseball skills. He was a key star on Brooklyn's Golden Era in the late 1940s and 1950s, and he proved to the world that talent knows no color, and that MLB suffered from ignorance too.

It took a couple of people to questioning baseball's segregation policy, and at the time, while many supported it, others didn't. People like Robinson and Dodger GM Branch Rickey forged ahead and helped to changed baseball. At the same time, they also helped to change America.

65 years later, we rarely question the integration of professional sports, and professional athletes are admired and worshipped. But do they speak out against injustice, like Robinson did? Where are their voices now as Americans still work to make this country event better? Maybe they should take a moment from Jackie Robinson Day and reflect on what Jackie was able to do: excel in baseball AND use his fame to fight racism in America. We are still waiting to Latino ballplayers to "be like Jackie" and speak out against places like Arizona. Here's hoping they begin to internalize Jackie even more.