Breakthrough For Baseball
By Len "Muddy" Mardeusz
Jackie Robinson’s major league debut came in 1947 and it was a turning point event in baseball history. His signing with the Dodgers, thanks to General Manager Branch Rickey, opened the door for racial integration.
Branch Rickey divised a plan that would alter other team’s manner of judging Africa-American ball players. Rickey so believed in Robinson’s talent and ability he knew other team owners would notice.
Branch Rickey supported Jackie while he endured pressure and racism. Jackie Robinson answered back leading in stolen bases. He played first base with flawless ability. His asset to other team was enormous. Three months after Jackie signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers, outfielder Larry Doby was signed by American League team Cleveland Indians. Doby quickly proved his defensive and offensive ability. The St. Louis Browns followed by signing Hank Thompson and Willard Brown. By the end of the 1947 season team owners no longer placed race as a barrier in signing Africa-American ball players.
In the same respect sports writers gradually came to accept the addition of Africa-Americans into the Game of baseball. In fact, the Base Ball Writers Association of America decided to take their Chicago-based Rookie of the Year Award and make it national in 1947. All chapters voted for Jackie Robinson topping an excellent pitcher Larry Jansen. Jackie had a great rookie year. He played in 151 games; batter .297; stow 29 bases and only struck out 36 times. In addition Jackie played very well in the ‘47 World Series against the New York Yankees. The Yankees won the Series in 7 games. But rookie Jackie Robinson made himself known stealing 2 bases and playing the field flawlessly.
In 1987, Commissioner Peter Uberroth renamed the Rookie of the Year as the Jackie Robinson Award. The award was made separate for both leagues in 1949. In recognition of Jackie Robinson’s contribution the baseball game, all major league stadiums visibly feature his uniform number “42”. Jackie Robinson a great American.