Today is the 70th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s first major league appearance.
Jackie Robinson’s importance to sport and society is enormous. But when this site Eyewitness to History states that Jackie Robinson was the “first Black player in major league baseball”, it is incorrect. As this site from the Library of Congress notes, there were Black players in the 19th century.
Jackie Robinson broke “baseball’s color barrier”, as the Baseball Hall of Fame put it, but it was a wall that was once down, then rebuilt.
Wikipedia writes that Robinson “became the first African American Major League Baseball player of the modern era in 1947”, and that would be correct, the “modern era” usually referring to the advent of the American League in 1901. However, Wikipedia’s list of first black Major League Baseball players by team and date would be more accurate if it indicated “since 1900” or another qualifying term.
This in no way meant to diminish the contribution made by and courage shown by Jackie Robinson, though I’ve long thought that he, needing to control his rage against the taunts he experienced when he broke the color line in Major League Baseball, shortened his life; he was only 53 when he died. Tomorrow is the 70th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s first major league appearance. Dozens of players, managers and coaches will be wearing Robinson’s number 42, which had been retired two decades ago.
My father was a lifelong Dodgers fan because of Jackie, while I rooted for the Yankees, one of the last two teams, along with the Boston Red Sox, to have a black player in the modern era. My rooting interest came from geography, my father’s from history.
(CREDIT: “Jackie Robinson comic book.” Greenwich, CT: Fawcett Publications, July 1951. Vol. 1, no. 5. By Popular Demand: Jackie Robinson and Other Baseball Highlights, 1860s-1960s, Library of Congress. )
Reprinted from my December 21st, 2005 blog, with additional info.
“A pledge reciter, who recites the words ‘liberty for all’ and yet accuses non-pledge reciters of un-patriotism, is breaking their oath as they speak.”
There’s a woman named Sara Niccoli, a farmer and a town supervisor in Montgomery County, who is running for the New York State Senate. The way districts are gerrymandered, the 46th District includes part of Albany County, but not the city of Albany. Otherwise, I would have supported her.
Her religious beliefs came under attack “after an anonymous Facebook page dubbed ‘The REAL Sara Niccoli’ posted” late in June “about the candidate’s [long-standing] decision not to recite” the Pledge of Allegiance.
“‘As we commemorate the birth of our nation and all those who gave so much to ensure its place as the ‘Shining City on a Hill,’ it’s unacceptable that [she refuse] to recite the Pledge… Tell Sara Niccoli to honor America!’
When Jackie Robinson joined major league baseball in 1947, that did not mark the end of racism and segregation.
It’s likely you’ll see a LOT of stories about the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. Every single one will marvel about how much progress has been made in America in the area of race, since 1963. Almost all will point to a black President, the current Attorney General, and two recent Secretaries of State as examples. The divergence in opinions come on this point: some will claim that we have “reached the promised land,” making sure to paraphrase Martin Luther King, Jr. from that day a half century ago – as though he were the only speaker there – while others will suggest that we haven’t quite gotten there yet.
When President Obama suggested that we look at race again in light of the Trayvon Martin case, that Obama could have been Trayvon 35 years ago, some, such as Touré at TIME, thought it was a brave personal observation. He wrote: “The assertion that blacks are hallucinating or excuse-making or lying when we talk about the many very real ways white privilege and racial bias and the lingering impact of history impact our lives is painful. It adds insult to injury to attack all assertions of racism and deny its continued impact or existence.”