Jackie Robinson was not only one of the greatest players to ever step foot onto the field, he was also the first player to truly break the colour barrier in baseball. His demeanor, attitude, skill, commitment, and personality all combined to make him the ideal candidate to shatter the colour barrier in baseball and withstand the onslaught of criticism, hatred, and abuse he inevitably expected to endure. He would do just that, opening the door and creating an amazing opportunity for many other players to enter the Majors and forge their own careers at the top level of professional baseball.
Jackie Robinson began his professional baseball career playing in the Negro Leagues for the Kansas City Monarchs, where his ability at the plate and on the base paths drew the attention of many throughout the baseball world – none more significant than Brooklyn Dodgers General Manager Branch Rickey. Branch Rickey advocated for Major League Baseball to break the colour barrier, and believed that Jackie Robinson was the ideal player with the strength to be successful amidst such a challenge. Once signed by Rickey, Robinson was sent to the Dodgers’ top-tier minor league team, the Montreal Royals, whereby he quickly gained many fans and supporters north of the border, and would lead the league in both average and stolen bases, batting .349 with 40 stolen bases. He made his Major League debut on April 15, 1947, and would go on to earn Rookie of the Year honours that year and later the NL MVP honours in 1949, leading the league in batting average (.342) and stolen bases (37) alongside a career-best 124 RBIs. The Dodgers won six pennants in the 10 seasons Robinson would play in Brooklyn. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962, not only for his outstanding play on the field, but his immense impact on both baseball and the world in regards to equal opportunity and rights. His legacy and contributions to the game are celebrated every year on April 15 – the day he made his Major League debut, known throughout the baseball community as Jackie Robinson Day.
Jackie Robinson once said “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives” – simply put, the impact Jackie had on the game of baseball and its fans has been immeasurable.
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