default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
Logout|My Dashboard

Jackie Robinson endured abuse so others could enjoy success

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Friday, April 13, 2007 10:00 pm | Updated: 11:18 am, Thu Jul 22, 2010.

As a young boy growing up in Los Angeles, I was aware of Robinson's athletic achievements. Robinson - whose 60th anniversary as baseball's first African-American player is being celebrated this weekend - was a legend.

And for good reason. At the University of California at Los Angeles, Robinson was the first student to play - and excel - at four varsity sports concurrently: baseball, football, track and basketball.

Baseball consumed me. Although the major leagues didn't arrive in Los Angeles until 1957, I followed them with a passion that few could match. Every evening I read the box scores from the Los Angeles Daily Examiner. In those days, games back East were played during the day and the results were printed in the late edition.

Then, after I had digested the big league statistics, I turned my attention to the local California Triple-A minor league teams: the Hollywood Stars, the Los Angeles Angeles, the San Francisco Seals and the Sacramento Solons.

But while I was old enough to appreciate and admire Robinson's skills when he took the field, I was in no way mature enough to understand what he had to endure.

During Robinson's first game against the Boston Braves, the Braves' manager, Ben Chapman, yelled out at Jackie, "Hey n--r, why don't you go back to the cotton field where you belong?"

Even one of Robinson's teammates, Eddie Stanky, was an enemy. Before the opening game against the Braves, Stanky approached Robinson and said," "Before I play with you I want you to know how I feel about it. I want you to know I don't like it. I want you to know I don't like you."

Despite the overwhelming odds against his success created by the atmosphere of hate that surrounded him, Robinson, who led the Dodgers to six pennants in 10 years, went on to be a Hall of Fame baseball player and also one of America's key civil rights figures.

As Robinson, looking back on his career said: "I had to fight hard against loneliness, abuse and the knowledge that any mistake I made would be magnified because I was the only black man out there. Many people resented my impatience and honesty, but I never cared about acceptance as much as I cared about respect."

But on Jackie Robinson Day on April 15, as the deserved celebrations of Robinson, his career and his role as one of America's most important 20th century figures play out across the country, there are sad and ironic footnotes to his story.

The first is that so few Americans, including major league players, know anything at all about Robinson or his sacrifices. This, in a world where only a handful of people can identify the current chief justice of the Supreme Court or recognize a photograph of John F. Kennedy, is not altogether surprising.

But it is disappointing.

Second, and an even greater disappointment is that, despite Robinson's crusade on their behalf, so few blacks play baseball today.

According to a 2006 study by the University of Central Florida's Institute of Diversity and Ethics in Sports, only 8.4 percent of major league players are black, a decline from 9 percent in 2004 and 2005.

This is the fewest number of blacks in baseball since 1986.

On the other hand, 29.4 percent of major league players in 2006 were Hispanic and 2.4 percent were Asian, both an increase over their 2005 totals.

The good news is that neither of these two facts will in any way detract from the recognition of Robinson and baseball's "proudest and most powerful moment" at Dodger Stadium.

Joe Guzzardi is an instructor at the Lincoln Technical Academy. He is uncomfortable with the inevitability of Barry Bonds passing Hank Aaron for the all-time career home run record. Guzzardi can be reached at guzzjoe@yahoo.com.

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Use your real name. You must register with your full first and last name before you can comment. (And don’t pretend you’re someone else.)
  • 2 Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually oriented language.
  • 3 Don’t threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
  • 4 Be truthful. Don't lie about anyone or anything. Don't post unsubstantiated allegations, rumors or gossip that could harm the reputation of a person, company or organization.
  • 5 Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 6 Stay on topic. Make sure your comments are about the story. Don’t insult each other.
  • 7 Tell us if the discussion is getting out of hand. Use the ‘Report’ link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 8 Share what you know, and ask about what you don't.
  • 9 Don’t be a troll.
  • 10 Don’t reveal personal information about other commenters. You may reveal your own personal information, but we advise you not to do so.
  • 11 We reserve the right, at our discretion, to monitor, delete or choose not to post any comment. This may include removing or monitoring posts that we believe violate the spirit or letter of these rules, or that we otherwise determine at our discretion needs to be monitored, not posted, or deleted.

Welcome to the discussion.

1 comment:

  • posted at 1:59 pm on Sat, Apr 14, 2007.


    The greatest Bruin Athlete ever. Baseball was his fourth best sport. Thanks for what you did Jackie!!!


Recent Comments

Posted 21 minutes ago by robert maurer.

article: Steve Hansen: Funding, researcher bias …

47 to 63% more ice in Antarctica last year. Heat passes through co2, it does not trap it. Co2 is used industrially as a coolant. Dry ice is…


Posted 41 minutes ago by robert maurer.

article: JoAnne Mounce: California gas tax is a …

Faking English problems again, Walter? Name 5 people you love besides the liberals who post here. Then name 5 people who love you( besides …


Posted 42 minutes ago by Thomas Heuer.

article: Letter: Our leaders need to be better r…

Mike You made my day with your 6:16 am post this morning. Thanks. However your struggle to correct Kevin's hyperbolic and exaggerated respo…


Posted 50 minutes ago by robert maurer.

article: Letter: Our leaders need to be better r…

Yes , Mike , what culture war is that? Plan on turning Islamic soon? You and the any old geezer older than 63 won't see it. Check out bare …


Posted 1 hour ago by robert maurer.

article: Letter: Our leaders need to be better r…

You should, you should , you should... Yeah , maybe YOU should...



Popular Stories



Your News

News for the community, by the community.

Mailing List

Subscribe to a mailing list to have daily news sent directly to your inbox.

  • Breaking News

    Would you like to receive breaking news alerts? Sign up now!

  • News Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily news headlines? Sign up now!

  • Sports Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily sports headlines? Sign up now!

Manage Your Lists