Sunday, January 31, 2010


The bat swinging fellow above is one Jackie Robinson, born this day 1919 in Cairo, Georgia. Of course he is widely known as the man to break the colour barrier and play in the Major Leagues. He took a long road to get there, being born the son of a sharecropper in Georgia, moving to California, joining the military during WWII, and starring in track and field at UCLA. That long road eventually led to Ebbets Field on April 15th, 1947 when he made his major league debut in a 5-3 Dodgers win. The Dodgers had an All-Star at second base, the position Robinson normally played, and so for his first year in the big leagues he played first base. Anywhere would do I suppose, just as long as you are in the show. During his first year the Dodger clubhouse had some fellows who were not fond of the idea of playing alongside Robinson, but manager Leo Durocher quelled the racial tensions by saying "I do not care if the guy is yellow or black, or if he has stripes like a fuckin' zebra. I'm the manager of this team, and I say he plays. What's more, I say he can make us all rich. And if any of you cannot use the money, I will see that you are all traded." That pretty much settled that, and Robinson went on to star for the Dodgers for a Hall of Fame 12 year career. He even played himself in a movie about his life. He faced a lot of abuse during his early playing days, and always responded to it on the field. In fact, when he first became eligible to be voted into the baseball Hall of Fame, he implored voters to vote for it, if they were going to, based upon what he did on the field, not on his cultural impact on the game. He was elected on the first ballot, and I can only think/hope that it is what he did on the field that counted. He retired in 1957, after a 12 year career that will never be forgotten in the long annals of Major League Baseball. In an era of overpaid, overweight, steroid taking asshats, baseball could do well to find another Jackie Robinson to save it from itself. So, for playing America's pastime with such skill, and taking such unwarranted racial abuse with grace, and patience, Jackie Robinson (January 31st, 1919-October 24th, 1973, of a heart attack at the age of 53), you are my (159th) hero of the day.

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