The statue of Jackie Robinson was unveiled last week by the Dodges at Chavez Ravine. It is a magniﬁ cent piece of work, and it showed him sliding into a base, which he often did. Jackie was a great baseball player, but he was also so much more than that. He was an incredible force of nature, a human dynamo, who could not be stopped.
Rachel, his devoted wife was there, and it must’ve been extra special for her. She is now an elegant 94 year old lady. What thoughts must’ve been going through her mind?
The younger sports fans can see how he played by watching old video recordings of him in action. I know that I am not aware of any words that would do him justice. If you want to fully appreciate Jackie, then words alone cannot help you.
However, in order for him to play baseball in the Major League’s, he had to have more than athletic talent. He had to endure the scorn of most of his teammates, as well as from most of the fans. To put it in simple terms, there were many people, who wanted to kill him, in order to prevent him from playing baseball.
Major League Baseball had to install security ofﬁcers at the entrances to the ballparks so that they could take riﬂes away from those who were entering. Jackie and his wife Rachel lived under police protection for nearly 5 years. So he had to have the courage to report to a hostile ballpark, knowing that some people wanted to kill him and to still play the game.
Try to imagine how you would feel if you were cursed and taunted every time you went to work. Additionally, you would also know that the pitcher was going to throw the ball at your head. Try to imagine how you would feel if you were surrounded by people, all of whom wanted to injure or to kill you. Could you process that information and still go to bat, and get a hit? All of you can speak for yourselves, but I know that even if I would have had his athletic talent, I could never have had his courage and dedication. Jackie was not only great, he was unbelievable!
It was just a simple issue, he wanted to play baseball with the Brooklyn Dodgers, and most of the people in this country did not want him to do that. They were determined to keep him from doing so. They attacked him and they injured him, but they could not make him quit. He overcame the hurdles that were placed in his path, and he became an outstanding baseball player. Astoundingly, he led the Dodgers to a World Series victory in 1955. This had to be a special day for him and for Rachel.
Even while defending himself from the various life threats on his life, Jackie managed to play superb baseball. He had great athletic talent and incredibly quick reﬂ exes he was always alert to the opportunities to do the unexpected. He would go from 1st to 3rd on a bunt. Whenever he was on third base, he would threaten to steal home, or he would actually do it.
John Roosevelt Robinson fully understood the task that he embarked upon. However, even he could not have imagined that it would be so vicious and so enduring. The opposing players were determined to make him quit, but he was determined to stay, and he did. Jackie died at the age of forty-nine, and the cause was listed as diabetes.
I have to accept the medical diagnosis, but I suspect that the tremendous pressure that he lived under contributed to the shortening of his life. It is worth noting, that he played the game with all of the skill the ferocity that anyone could have imagined. We will never forget him, since he was a hero to most of us, and his name was Jackie!