Exactly one week ago today as well as every other year on April 15th Major League Baseball celebrated Jackie Robinson Day. Every player on all 30 Major League teams wore the number 42 on their back. This is the only time during the season players are allowed to wear this number. A couple years ago the MLB agreed that Jackie Robinson’s number would be retired by every team due to his immense impact on the game of baseball. By donning the number 42 on their back each player remembers and recognizes the impact Robinson had on today’s game.
Jackie Robinson is regarded as one of the most important and influential athletes of all time. He was the first black baseball player to play in the Major Leagues and essentially broke the color barrier. Before moving to Los Angeles, the Brooklyn Dodger signed Robinson and he played his entire carrier with them. With Robinson’s emergence the civil rights movement significantly changed as well as the dynamic of Professional Baseball. His bravery and efforts not only opened the door for African Americans but Hispanic, and Latin American baseball players as well. Although the number of African Americans has fallen from 17.25% in 1959 to 8.05% in 2012 (USA Today). On the other hand Major League Baseball’s Opening Day rosters were comprised of a little more than 28% in 2013 (Latino Fox News). These statistics provide more of a tangible result to show the effect Robinson had on the game.
Another positive argument that can be made for Jackie Robinson’s influence on the game is the advancement that these African American, Hispanic, Asian and Latin Americans are having in baseball today. Here’s a couple examples of some of these players having success: Albert Pujols hit his 500th career home run today. Miguel Cabrera won the Triple Crown (highest batting average, most home runs, and most runs batted in), Ichiro Suzuki is has ther most hits of all time (combining his hits from the Japanese Professional League and MLB) and the top two all time home run hitters are Barry Bonds (765) and Hank Aaron (755) who are both African American. So what does that say about the talent in the baseball world? To me it means anyone can play no matter the color of their skin or where they come from.
That’s what Jackie Robinson wanted to convey to everyone and prove himself and to the rest of the African American community. Jackie Robinson was bigger than the game of baseball and 42 is more than a number.