To celebrate Black History Month, The Sports Museum will be sharing an essay each week from our annual Will McDonough Writing Contest.
By Victoria R.
Hull High School in Hull, MA
10th Grade Entry, ‘19 Will McDonough Writing Contest
Most people, when they think of a very influential person in sports, will have a current, famous person pop into their mind. Most of the people in New England, would say Tom Brady. Yes, he does have outstanding achievements, yet he would not be considered one of the most influential people in sports. But Jackie Robinson, is one of the most influential sports players, having ended 60 years of racial segregation in the Major League Baseball. But he did not have an easy time getting to that point, and achieving the amazing things he did.
Jackie Robinson was born on January 31, 1919 in Cairo Georgia. He was the youngest of five children. But when he was only six months old, his father, Jerry Robinson, left the family. His family moved in 1920, when he was 14 months old, to Pasadena, California. They had a hard time there, needing the help from a welfare agency to get a house, and having to deal with all of their racist neighbors. Their neighbors petitioned to get them out of the neighborhood, and some even were willing to buy them out of the house. But Jackie Robinson’s talents began to show at an early age, and in high school, he played baseball, basketball, football, and track. But when he was in college at UCLA, baseball was probably his weakest sport. He had to drop out of college due to financial problems. He went to Hawaii to play football with the Honolulu Bears in 1941. In 1942 after coming back home, he was drafted into the army.
After his discharge from the army in 1945, he went to play with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro League. During this point in time, Branch Ricky, had been looking at players in the Negro Leagues. Ricky was the president, general manager, and part-owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers; and the orchestrator of Organized Baseball Desegregation. He was scouring the Negro Leagues, looking for those talented enough for the Major League; and while Robinson may not have been the best, he looked like a very good choice. In October of 1945, he signed a contract with the Montreal Royals International League, the top minor league of the Dodgers organization. He was making significant progress in the integration of baseball, but many MLB owners still refused to consider any colored players for their teams. They still wouldn’t, even though the pool of players had decreased due to players being injured in the war. But in November of 1944, Baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis passed away. He was thought to be one of the people preventing the integration, and Ricky was then able to integrate the Dodgers.
Once on the team, the racial segregation in the MLB began to come to an end. Jackie Robinson went on to win many different achievements. He was the first African American to win batting title, to win Most Valuable Player, and to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. He was also the MLB’s first official Rookie of the Year, and the first baseball player, black or white, to be on a US postage stamp. Jackie Robinson changed the world for many African American baseball players. Due to him, baseball players of any ethnicity have an equal chance of making it in to the Major League.
Castrovince, Anthony. “Jackie Robinson’s Impact Still Felt in MLB.” MLB.com, 15 Apr. 2016, www.mlb.com/news/jackie-robinsons-impact-still-felt-in-mlb/c-172346722.
NewsHour, PBS. “The Long Influence of Jackie Robinson, on and off the Field.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, 11 Apr. 2016, www.pbs.org/newshour/show/the-long-influence-of-jackie-robinson-on-and-off-the-field.
Swaine, Rick. “Jackie Robinson.” Bud Fowler | Society for American Baseball Research, 2006, https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/bb9e2490.