April 15 stands alone as a special day in the sports world.
It marks one of the most significant days in American sports history.
Robinson’s bravery opened the gates for other worthy, yet unfairly discriminated against, black baseball players.
TIME Magazine acknowledged this first ballot Hall of Famer by naming him among the top 100 most influential people of the 20th Century because of the impact he had on the sport as well as on our segregated nation.
Now American movie goers are honoring Robinson. They have turned out impressively the past two weekends to see 42, a wonderful movie chronicling the MLB Hall of Fame player’s personal struggles and ultimate successes on and off the baseball diamond.
42, starring Chadwick Boseman and Harrison Ford,enjoyed a robust opening weekend of $27.3M in sales which topped entertainment industry forecasts. This past weekend, 42 finished second behind opening of Oblivion, starring Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman, and posted very respectable sales of $18.1M.
The movie’s portrayal of Robinson’s personally overcoming story should be seen by every American. Viewers need to be reminded of our nation’s ugly past, so the atrocities of only a generation ago will never be replicated.
Robinson’s heroic and individually inspiring story is also featured in one of the chapters of my recently released book titled MIKE’s Top 10 Best Overcoming Sports Stories.
Here’s an excerpt from the book which is available on Amazon.
To this day, only NY Yankees closer Mariano Rivera wears the #42 jersey because he begun it wearing before the Commissioner’s directive.
The commissioner’s historic move recognized Jackie Robinson on the 50th anniversary of his 1947 debut when Robinson became the first black baseball player in the modern era to cross the color barrier that existed in the sport.
As a player with the Brooklyn Dodgers, #42’s fortitude also kindled dialogue beyond the baseball diamond when it came to our country’s ugly segregation. Many attribute his brazen baseball move to cross the color barrier helped propel the long overdue and ultimately successful Civil Rights Movement.
When he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 as a 28 year-old rookie, #42 overcame significant public scrutiny as well as regular cruel and unnecessary racial abuse. He was the target of ugly taunts, knock-down pitches and hateful insensitivity directed at him because of his skin color.
However, the Dodgers’ irascible manager Leo Derocher took a firm stand in defense of Robinson. Also, legendary Dodgers shortstop Pee Wee Reece’s comment in support of Robinson will never be forgotten. While standing with his arm draped around Robinson’s shoulders, Reece said, “You can hate a man for many reasons. Color is not one of them.”
Jackie played his entire ten year career with the Brooklyn Dodgers. A first-time ballot Hall of Fame inductee, Robinson’s career accomplishments included six all-star games, a World Series Championship in 1955 and impressive lifetime stats of .311 batting average, 1,518 hits, 137 home-runs, 734 runs batted in and 197 steals.
In addition, Robinson is credited beyond his exploits on the baseball diamond. He broke additional color lines that existed in mainstream America at the time. ABC Sports hired Robinson as the first ever black sportscaster to cover Major League Baseball.
In the late 50s, Robinson crossed a business barrier and became the first ever black Vice President of a major United States corporation when appointed by Chock full ‘o Nuts Coffee.
Before his death in 1982, Robinson accumulated a never-to-be duplicated resume as a distinguished retired athlete. Besides his baseball Hall of Fame induction, Robinson chaired the NAACP. Plus, he received our country’s two single greatest non-sports related individual honors; i.e. the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Medal of Honor…”
(excerpt taken from MIKE’s Top 10 Best Overcoming Sports Stories)
The movie 42 proved that TIME Magazine’s ranking Robinson among the top 100 most influential people of the 20th Century not only honored a most worthy Major League Baseball player.
TIME Magazine also recognized a courageous American who helped spearhead our country from its ugly discriminatory past.
MIKE – aka Mike Raffone – thee ultimate talking head on sports!