Jack Roosevelt Robinson, aka Jackie Robinson, born January 31, 1919 in Cairo, Georgia and died October 24, 1972 (aged 53) in Stamford, Connecticut, is an American baseball player who played in the Major League from 1947 to 1956 On April 15, 1947, he became the first black to play in the Major League since the ban imposed at this level for sixty years by club owners, who relied on the decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States1. A tireless activist for the egalitarian cause, he paved the way for the “Civil Rights Revolution” 2.
Rookie of the Year in 1947, Best Major League Player and Batting Average Leader in 1949 and All-Star Team Member in 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953 and 1954, he was elected to the Hall of Fame. baseball’s fame in 1962, in its first year of eligibility. In 1999, he was named to the Team of the Century. The number 42 Robinson wore was withdrawn from baseball, a unique honor, from all MLB baseball franchises on April 15, 1997. Since 2004, the League has dedicated April 15 to Robinson’s memory with “Jackie Robinson Day” “.
Among the many works dedicated to Jackie, we can mention the song by Buddy Johnson, Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball ?, which has had multiple covers. The best known is that of Count Basie with Taps Miller on vocals (1949). The film The Jackie Robinson Story is directed in 1950 by Alfred E. Green, Jackie Robinson plays his own role; in 2012, Brian Helgeland directed 42, with Chadwick Boseman as Jackie Robinson and Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey.
Jackie Roosevelt Robinson was born on January 31, 1919 in Cairo3 in the state of Georgia in the midst of the “Spanish flu” epidemic. He is the fifth child and fourth son of Mallie Robinson and Jerry Robinson, sharecroppers on the James Madison Sasser plantation in Grady County, a few miles from the Florida border4. His mother chose Roosevelt as a middle name in tribute to President Theodore Roosevelt, who died twenty-five days before Jackie’s birth. After the father of the family abandoned his home6 when Jackie was only six months old, the Robinson family moved in 1920 to Pasadena, California. Jackie spent her childhood there in a poor neighborhood. He allows himself some petty theft, such as shoplifting. He thus frequents Captain Morgan, head of the juvenile delinquency service in Pasadena. Jackie Robinson pays a sustained tribute to this policeman in his memoirs, explaining for example that he did not hesitate to give a dollar to the young people if he suspected that they had not yet eaten all day7. Jackie was the first strong authority figure in her life. The other important person during his youth is his friend Carl Anderson. He’s the one who pushes Jackie to stop his teenage nonsense.
Brother of Matthew “Mack” Robinson, Olympic silver medalist over 200 meters behind Jesse Owens in 1936, Jackie Robinson was a complete athlete during his youth. He is a shortstop or receiver in baseball, quarterback in American football, leader in basketball, and is a member of the athletics and tennis teams at John Muir Technical High School9 then at Pasadena Junior College10.
He began college courses at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) 11 and successfully wore the colors of the UCLA Bruins from 1939 to 194112 becoming the first UCLA student with four sports letters of recommendation: athletics, basketball , American football and baseball13. In basketball, he led the South Division of the Pacific Coast Conference for two seasons (1940 and 1941). In American football, he is the best nationally in punt return in 1939 (16.5 yards avg) and 1940 (21 yards avg). In two seasons, he gained 954 yards on runs and 449 on passes15. He was selected to the NCAA All-American Team at the start of 194116. In athletics, he broke the Pacific Coast Conference varsity record in sophomore long jump (7.62m) and won the University Championship title. of the United States (NCAA) in Minneapolis, Minnesota17. As the rain made it impossible to hold the competition outdoors, it took place indoors17. He only played the 1940 season with the Bruins baseball team. After an excellent first game on March 10, 1940 with four hits, four stolen bases and a successful home steal, Jackie then recorded poor performances. His batting average is only 0.097 and he collects errors18. If we remember the number 18 he wore on his basketball jersey or his number 28 in American football, we have lost all trace of the number he wore in baseball. At UCLA, he also enjoys competitive tennis, golf and swimming. Jackie Robinson was one of 25 UCLA athletes who were honored when the California University Sports Hall of Fame was created in 196520. It was also at UCLA that he met his future wife, Rachel Isum21.
Jackie left UCLA six months after graduation because he found a job with the National Youth Administration22. This professional experience was cut short and Jackie took over the management of Honolulu to play semi-professional for the Honolulu Bears American football team during the fall of 1941. His contract provided for a job at Pearl Harbor23. His arrival in the team was greeted by the local press, which nicknamed him “Century Express” 23. The season ends on December 3, and on December 5, Jackie embarks on the Lurline to return to the continent. He is still at sea during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Following the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Jackie Robinson attempted to enlist in the army, but his request was rejected. Blacks are not welcome in the US military. In 1939, less than 4000 blacks were under the flags and almost all of them were relegated to service jobs, far from weapons (waiters or divers in canteens and other messes, for example). Faced with pressure from the military, the American Red Cross even agrees to separate the “black” and “white” blood pellets in the blood banks26,27.
Robinson then found a job as a truck driver for Lockheed in Burbank, California.
On March 23, 1942, the US presidency issued instructions to integrate blacks into the military. Robinson then received a summons to report to the National Guard armory in Pasadena on April 3. He received his military package there and then went for a medical examination at Fort McArthur in San Pedro in Los Angeles. He was deemed fit for service and began his military training a few days later at Fort Riley, Kansas. Jackie stays there for thirteen weeks, normal class length. There he saw boxer Joe Louis and the two athletes quickly became friends. Engaged as a volunteer like Robinson, Louis was at the height of his glory. Robinson is greatly impressed by the calm and modesty of Louis, adored by both blacks and whites in the United States. Jackie admits having learned a lot from the “Brown Bomber”.
With or without the help of Joe Louis depending on the version, Jackie then forces access to the officer school from which black soldiers were previously excluded. He had a sufficient physical and academic level to qualify. He left second lieutenant on January 28, 194329.
Jackie has always had recurring pain in his right ankle, but in the fall of 1943 he twisted the joint heavily twice. He underwent examinations in October 1943 and was then admitted to the Fort Sam Houston hospital in San Antonio, Texas on January 5, 1944. Doctors offered to declare him physically unfit for military service on January 28, 194430. Jackie was not however not released, because a new examination is scheduled six months later. On June 26, he was deemed fit31. The stake was its transfer to Europe on the field of operations. While waiting for his transfer to Europe, Robinson experiences an incident that will cut short his military career.
On July 6, he refused to obey a bus driver ordering him to sit at the back of the bus, and not in front, these places being reserved for white soldiers. Robinson follows the example set by Joe Louis and Sugar Ray Robinson who also refused, a few days earlier, to obey these new military regulations. Jackie is arrested by military police on July 24 and is incarcerated. He was court martialed on August 2 and was acquitted32.
On August 24, he was assigned to the 761st Tank Battalion, but this unit nicknamed the Black Panthers was already on its way to Europe. She landed on October 10 at Omaha Beach. An integral part of General Patton’s Third Army, it was the first black American military unit sent to fire. Jackie is not present, probably due to blockages in his hierarchy during the summer of 1944. His late assignment to the battalion, three days after a strange assignment to the 659th Tank Destroyer Battalion, indeed suggests that Robinson was voluntarily sidelined. by a hierarchy faced with its contradictions during the trial. Robinson is sick of the army. He was released from his military obligations on November 28, 1944.
Kansas City Monarchs (1945)
Robinson left the army and during the winter of 1944-1945 became coach of the Samuel Huston College basketball team in Austin34, Texas, before joining the Kansas City Monarchs (Negro Leagues). He contacts Hilton Smith who invites him to spring training for the Monarchs. Robinson, who has not played competitive baseball since 1940, signed with the Monarchs in March 1945.35 At the end of spring training, he secured a starting place with the Monarchs and became the young player to track for recruiters35. He also quickly made a test in Boston for the Red Sox (April 16), but despite his good performances during this test, the Red Sox did not follow through36. Boston nearly became the first Major League franchise to include a black player; she will ultimately be the last to do so. The situation was complicated during the war as the leaders of baseball slowly realized the intolerable nature of these racist distinctions. Thus, in 1942, the very racist judge Landis declared that there was no regulation prohibiting blacks from playing in major leagues. Officially, no… The agreement reached in 1887 by the owners of the franchises to exclude black players from their leagues remains in effect at the stage of the Gentlemen’s agreement which will be scrupulously applied for six decades. During this period, black players must be content to evolve in Negro Leagues.
During a trip with the Monarchs, Robinson asks to go to the bathroom at a gas station. The pump attendant refuses, because the toilets are reserved for whites. Jackie Robinson then stopped the current delivery of fuel for his team’s bus and the gas station attendant gave in. Subsequently, each time their team stops at service stations to refuel, all Monarch players ask to go to the bathroom, indicating that in the event of a refusal, their bus would not refuel at this station37 .
An excellent young player, Robinson is credited with a batting average of 0.345 and participates in the East-West All-Star Game hosted by the Negro Leagues. He plays for the West team which wins 9-638. In terms of his game, he perfectly assimilates the typical strategies of the Negro Leagues, based on a very dynamic game based. Basic theft and other tactics to destabilize defenders no longer hold any secrets for him. As Buck O’Neil says, Jackie will be the first to import this typical Negro Leagues game into the Major League37.
Montreal Royals (1946)
Jackie Robinson was recruited on October 23, 1945 by Branch Rickey, general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers (Major League Baseball) 39. Rickey, who is a very urban man, spends two hours one-on-one with Jackie, explaining the ordeal that awaits him. Rickey gives Jackie plenty of racist insults, puts him in the face of vexatious or hateful reactions, and asks him if he is able to remain unmoved for at least three years. This is, according to Rickey, the time it will take for the public and the media to accept this revolution. Robinson refuses to give his answer on the spot and calls for a day of reflection. The next day, he accepts the challenge.
The young married Jackie Robinson, who married Rachel Isum on February 10, 1946 in Los Angeles42, still needs to harden up; he played one season in the minor league with the Montreal Royals3, an International League (AAA) club affiliated with the Dodgers. This hook by Quebec also makes it possible to test the reactions of the public, the media and the players. When Rickey announces the arrival of Robinson to Clay Hopper, manager of the Royals, the latter is not very excited about working with a black player. This southerner goes so far as to question Rickey: “Do you really think black people are human beings? “43. He quickly changes his mind upon contact with Robinson …
Robinson completes his training by successively occupying all the positions of the infield during the spring training of the Royals. He amazes his coaches and teammates with his ability to quickly integrate the different aspects of these positions. Al Campanis, another infielder for the Royals, sums up Jackie’s learning phase as follows: “He learned to do a double play pivot correctly in less than half an hour”.
Jackie entered the game in a friendly warm-up match on March 17 at Daytona Beach, in front of 4,000 spectators, including 1,000 black spectators45. On the 21st, a match is scheduled in Jacksonville. Local sports authorities then recall that black players cannot play with white players; Rickey prefers to cancel the meeting. Other meetings are then canceled in Savannah, Richmond and DeLand46. Far from resigning himself, Rickey instead hires two other black players: Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe for the following season. The cause of integration then received the support of the National Football League (NFL) American football franchise of the Los Angeles Rams, which announced in March the signing of Kenny Washington, the first black player in the history of the NFL. Washington was teaming up with Jackie at the UCLA Bruins. With Woody Strode, they formed the Gold Dust Trio of UCLA.
The 1946 season of Robinson at the Royals is covered day by day by the national media: the black public forgets the existence of the Negro Leagues making Robinson their hero in 1946, while the white public follows, with passion, this attempt. daring in a country deeply marked by segregation. And in his first championship match, on April 18, 1946, he did not disappoint his fans by hitting a home run.
As expected, the reactions of racism are very violent. Robinson and Rickey are drowning in mailbags full of hate messages. In the stadiums, opposing fans do not hesitate to show their hostility. On the field, the opposing players take pleasure in multiplying the bad gestures towards him. The pressure is then considerable on the shoulders of Robinson. Everyone feels that he will cross the black line of segregation at the start of the 1947 season, but some are not ready to admit it. Since July 1946, a committee of the major leagues has in fact been officially reflecting on the “question of race” 49. Larry MacPhail, then a member of the board leading the New York Yankees, had the theme included in the program of an assembly gathered to reflect on the evolutions of the game. MacPhail advocates segregation by pointing out the fact that authorizing black players would lead to an increase in attendance by black audiences, implying, according to him, a depreciation of the value of franchises49.
Jackie leads the Royals to the title of International League champion and then the overall Triple-A50 level. These successes caused a wave of collective hysteria in Montreal, where Robinson was clearly adored. He is even pursued by an enthusiastic crowd eager to show him their affection, inspiring Pittsburgh Courier reporter Sam Maltin: “It was probably the only day in history when a black man fled from a crowd of whites who pursued him for love and not for the lyncher ”51.
Jackie Robinson’s season with the Montreal Royals is designated as a historic event under the Quebec Cultural Heritage Act, at the suggestion of the City of Montreal.
Brooklyn Dodgers (1947-1956)
At the sporting level, Jackie Robinson is one of the best players in the history of the game. He also helps the Dodgers go from losing status to that of champions: six times winners of the National League championship (1947, 1949, 1952, 1953, 1955 and 1956).
Robinson left the Dodgers at the end of the 1956 season, worn out by ten years of permanent fighting.
The black line is broken (April 15, 1947)
The winter of 1946-1947 is difficult for Robinson who does not yet know if Rickey will succeed in imposing him in the roster of the Brooklyn Dodgers in the Major League. The birth of Jackie Junior on November 18, 194653 prompted him to leave in search of income during the offseason. He then signs for the winter with the Los Angeles Red Devils, a semi-professional basketball training. He plays in particular against George Mikan, knowing the worst difficulties vis-a-vis this future giant of the National Basketball Association (NBA) 54, then prefers to stop this experience at the beginning of January55 because of small physical problems.
Rickey specially designed the 1947 spring training of the Dodgers. Alerted by the refusals to play from the cities of the South, he prefers to relocate the preparation of the season to Cuba and Panama. Three other black players are in the Dodgers roster: Roy Campanella, Don Newcombe and Roy Partlow56. The preparation for the season is going smoothly in Cuba; on the other hand, the reactions of the white American soldiers based in Panama are much more problematic57. Robinson responded with home runs and stolen bases. He also hits four hits in a game. The match reports published by the New York press place particular emphasis on Jackie’s performance.
After the season opener, the Dodgers play another game at home before heading away to face neighbors of the New York Giants at the Polo Grounds in the Harlem neighborhood. Appointed to the post of manager on April 18, 64, Burt Shotton does not yet know if Robinson will be full holder all season. When the reporter Red Barber asks him about this before the first match at Polo Grounds, Shotton is content with a “I don’t even have a hotel room to sleep in tonight!” “63. The links forged since 1946 by Robinson with at least two leftist groups are also problematic. Tracked by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), he appears on the lists of suspected communist activity. On this point, Jackie is very clear in one of her telegrams: “I consider this a great honor. “65. His room for maneuver in this area is only limited by his relationship with Branch Rickey. The latter intervenes moreover, but Jackie then cuts him off by making him understand that his first fight was the one they had in common65. It is in this context that the Dodgers move to Harlem where the black community is massively present in the stands, even inspiring a famous poem, Passing, in Langston Hughes. The public is even more numerous the next day: it is the record attendance for a match played on a Saturday at the Polo Grounds (52,335 paying spectators) 66. Despite two good games of Robinson who enchanted the crowd, the Dodgers lost. Jackie has a batting average of 0.429 after a week of competition. These performances put at least a definitive end to the debate concerning Jackie at the Dodgers: he will be starting.
Philadelphia’s reception at Ebbets Field from April 22 is more problematic. Manager Ben Chapman and at least three Phillies players are particularly hurtful in their words. For the first time since playing in the Major League, Robinson clearly wants to settle this dispute with his fists, but he abstains. And the situation continues during the three games between Brooklyn and Philadelphia. Chapman knows that Robinson promised Rickey not to get upset, and he urges him to make a mistake. The very conservative Sporting News, which has long campaigned for the maintenance of segregation in baseball, denounces these racist insults69. Same reactions of rejection from the white Philadelphia press. The most famous sports journalist of the time is Walter Winchell. He is scathing on the radio: “Those who do not want to be on the same baseball field as Robinson do not belong to the same country as him” 69. Some spectators present near the shelter of the Phillies spontaneously testify to the authorities of the words heard. Baseball commissioner Albert “Happy” Chandler warns Chapman that he will be penalized for a repeat offense. Robinson dodges the question under the rubric he now keeps in the Pittsburgh Courier, claiming that Chapman’s insults did not reach him. He arises, rightfully, in a position of attacked who has the intelligence not to respond to provocations, as noted by all the media.
Incidents of the same type increase, but Jackie receives the full support of his teammates. While traveling to Cincinnati and Boston, faced with the hatred of opposing supporters, Pee Wee Reese takes Robinson under his shoulder, thus signaling to his detractors that he is totally in solidarity with his fight. Reese and Robinson quickly become very close friends71. Ralph Branca makes the same gesture in Saint-Louis72. At the very end of the season, Jackie and Joe Garagiola, Sr., receiver of the Saint-Louis Cardinals, come to blows, but a quick intervention of the referee prevents the incident from escalating73. In the eleventh inning, it is with Enos Slaughter, first baseman of the Cardinals, that Robinson clings73. On his next move to bat, Jackie hit a home run with a man on base, giving the Dodgers the 4-3 victory.
Over the season as a whole, Robinson recorded a batting average of 0.297 and was instrumental in securing the National League title. He plays at the first base position and is named best rookie of the year by Sporting News, which has just created this new trophy. Jackie finished fifth in the vote for the best player of the season in the National League.
In the preface to his autobiography, Robinson highlights the pride he felt in becoming the first black player to compete in a World Series. In his eyes, this series is more important than its debut on April 15. The 1947 World Series pitted the Dodgers against the New York Yankees and opened the last golden age of New York baseball (1947-1957) 76. The seventh and final part of the series takes place on October 6 at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees win 5-277.
A poll taken after the 1947 season ranked Jackie as the second most favorite male figure among Americans behind Bing Crosby78. Branch Rickey’s bet is about to be won.
Over the winter, Jackie undergoes surgery to treat an osteophyte in her right ankle. A month later, he took part in a disastrous tour for his health79.
Spring training for the Dodgers began in the West Indies, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico80 and ended in the United States, at Vero Beach, Florida. The Dodgers acquired old military buildings in order to allow Jackie Robinson and other black club players to sleep on the site. The state of Florida remains very rigid on segregation and prohibits whites and blacks sleeping under the same roof. With the military barracks, the Dodgers bypassed the obstacle81.
Jackie gained a lot of weight during the winter as a result of her health problems and her gambling is affected. Leo Durocher, back after his one-year suspension, criticizes him very harshly during spring training. Robinson accepts his manager’s remarks, “I think Durocher is right” 82, and works to regain his healthy weight.
Robinson changes positions from first to second. Its start to the season is sluggish. Not a steal in the first two months of competition and a batting average of .276. Durocher does not hesitate to leave him on the bench occasionally. The alarm goes off on June 24 during a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He struck a decisive grand slam at the bottom of the ninth inning, and his season took a new turn83. At the end of the race, he posted a batting average of 0.296 for 85 points and 108 RBIs84. The Dodgers have had a disappointing season finishing third in the National League behind Boston and St. Louis.
Jackie’s reactions to matches evolve from August 1948. Two incidents during meetings against the Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates indeed mark the end of Robinson’s period of voluntary silence. He will no longer hesitate, as in August 1948, to rub shoulders with the referees83. In his memoirs, Robinson thanked the referee for having sent him off during the game in Pittsburgh “not because I was black, but like any unbearable player” 85. The day after the incident, the press ironically headlines “Robinson, just another guy”, which makes Jackie proud. In his memoirs, he even cites this title as the best ever written about it86, because, even ironic, it is totally in tune with his egalitarian philosophy.
During the offseason, Jackie gets a raise. He was hoping for $ 20,000 per season and got $ 17,500. This amount is small compared to the salaries received at some clubs, but it is significant across the Dodgers87.
Credited with a batting average of 0.361 on July 1, Robinson is logically elected to participate in the All-Star Game. It receives 1,891,212 votes; only Ted Williams does better88. In this prestigious match played at Ebbets Field on July 13, Jackie plays alongside other black Dodgers players: Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe.
Helped by the fact that other black players are now operating regularly in the Major League, Robinson is under a little less pressure. The results recorded in 1949 are indicative of this form of serenity: 0.342 batting average, best performance of the year in the National League90, 37 stolen goals and 122 points. He logically inherits the title of best player of the season in the National League91 while the Dodgers remove a new flag of champion of the National League. The season ended with a World Series loss against the Yankees: 4-192.
During the offseason, the Jackie Robinson All-Stars make a small tour93, then Jackie signs a contract with the television channel WJZ-TV to host two weekly programs: that of Thursday offers interviews, mainly of sportsmen, while that of the Saturday afternoon targets young people. He also speaks daily on ABC’s national radio network for a sports column.
Outside of baseball, this year has been marked by political controversy. Black actor and singer Paul Robeson said at a convention in Paris in April that black American citizens would not support the United States in the event of war against the USSR. Jackie Robinson is invited to speak on this point before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), but he is not thrilled at the idea of opposing Robeson, who is fighting the same fight as him for legality. The hearing takes place on July 18. To avoid the obstacle, Jackie puts forward the fact that politics is not his forte, then evokes the communist “siren song ”95. This passage is little appreciated by the black media which evoke the trap set for Jackie by the HUAC. Robeson will refuse to argue with Robinson. “I have no quarrel with Jackie” 96 is content to point out the one who had announced at a concert the signing of Jackie to the Dodgers, before adding: “I think the House Committee insulted Jackie, me. insulted and insulted all black people. ”
In February, Jackie shoots the movie The Jackie Robinson Story and then joins the Dodgers’ training camp at Vero Beach. His salary is increased to $ 35,000 for the coming season; he becomes the highest paid player in the Dodgers97.
While Vin Scully joins Red Barber in the Dodgers’ commentary booth, Robinson writes a weekly fifteen-minute Sunday night column on ABC98’s nationwide radio network. Nine black players now play in the Major League, including four in Brooklyn: Robinson, Roy Campanella, Don Newcombe and Dan Bankhead. After the Dodgers, the Cleveland Indians (Larry Doby, since July 5, 1947), the St. Louis Browns (July 17, 1947), the New York Giants (July 8, 1949) and the Boston Braves (April 18, 1950) ) take the plunge98.
On July 11, Robinson honors his second selection in the All-Star Game99. Two weeks later, he had five hits in six batting passes in an 11-6 win over the Pirates in Pittsburgh.
The Dodgers had a bad end to the season and ended up two wins behind the Philadelphia Athletics in the National League. Jackie, who has just 12 stolen bases this season, is ranked 15th in the season’s best player vote101.
After this disappointing season, the Dodgers changed owners with the entry into the scene of Walter O’Malley on October 24102. This change is important for Robinson because it results in the dismissal of Branch Rickey, who goes to the Pittsburgh Pirates102. O’Malley even hands out fines to people naming Rickey in his presence. Jackie is dismayed and will maintain an ongoing relationship with Rickey until his death in 1965103. The press mentions his departure for the New York Giants, but he remains loyal to the Dodgers. He agreed for the 1951 season against $ 39,750.
New incident on May 31. At Ebbets Field against the Philadelphia Phillies, Robinson is hanging on hard with Phillies pitcher Russ Meyer. At home plate, Meyer tries in vain to block Jackie by hitting her violently in the chest. The two meet after the game to settle the dispute, and Meyer apologizes to Robinson during their interview at the Dodgers clubhouse.
Selected for the third time in the All-Star106 and sixth in the season’s best player vote107, Jackie has to settle for a new second place finish in the National League with the Dodgers. Brooklyn however flew over the 1951 season and had up to thirteen victories over the New York Giants in the heart of the summer108. The Giants are back on their rivals, however. A Jackie home run in the 14th inning against the Phillies in the final game of the regular season saw the Dodgers return to a perfect tie with the Giants109. You have to play a jump-off, or rather three, because you decide that the title of the National League is awarded to the best of three sets. The Giants won the first and the Dodgers the second, sweeping their opponents 10-0. Jackie hits three hits in five strokes at bat, for one home run and three RBIs. The third game is decisive. This match, played at the Polo Grounds on October 3, is one of the most legendary in the history of the Major Leagues111. Wall Street even suspends its quotes for the duration of the match112. The Dodgers are long in the lead and appear to be securing success by scoring three runs in the top of the eighth inning to lead 4-1. The Giants turn things around, however, at the bottom of the ninth inning to win.
The start of the season is marked by the birth of her third and last child, David, who was born on May 14, 1952114. A few days before, a case involving Jackie, referee Frank Dascoli and the new president of the National League , Warren Giles, breaks out. Giles issues a very harsh statement towards Jackie following an argument between Robinson and referee Frank Dascoli at the very end of the 1951 season, during the match on September 27. Giles, who does not hide his antipathy towards Jackie116, accuses him of having made racial comments to the referee. Robinson denies this version of events, but Giles ignores it. Walter O’Malley lends his support to his player, and Giles surprises everyone by speaking on May 13 at the presentation of the best player trophy to Roy Campanella. After congratulating the Dodgers receiver, he added, “and the League is also very proud of Jackie Robinson. “116. Despite this public apology, the Dascoli affair spoils Robinson’s image116. He is aware of it, but injustice, in life or on a baseball field, is unbearable to him: “When a referee makes an obvious mistake, I automatically explode. I can’t help myself. “117.
Once again selected for the All-Star game where he scored a home run118 and finished 7th in the vote for the best player of the season119, Jackie, who has a batting average of 0.308 in the regular season, finds the thrill of the World Series120 following the title of champion of the National League. The Dodgers lose again in seven games against the Yankees, giving up their chance in the last game. Robinson comes to bat in the seventh inning with his bases full and only one batter knocked out. He only succeeds in a candle that does not even come out of the infield121. The Dodgers lose this decisive game.
From May 1953, Jackie contributed to a new monthly sports magazine Our Sports, aimed primarily at black audiences. Joe Louis, Jackie’s friend, and Roger Kahn, Jackie’s favorite journalist, also write articles in this magazine.
Jim Gilliam, who spent time in common with Jackie on the road, established himself on second base with the help and support of Robinson. Jackie remains the Dodgers’ best second baseman, but he prefers to leave his place to young Gilliam and play where needed, mainly in the outfield. This choice muddies the votes for the All-Star Game, as it’s unclear which position Jackie is eligible for. The result is no surprise: Jackie is only a substitute in the All-Star124. He finished 12th in the best player of the season vote125 with a batting average of 0.329 and 95 RBIs. He celebrates with his teammates a new title of champion of the National League. In the World Series, the Dodgers lost 4-2 to the Yankees126. Gilliam, the young protégé of Robinson, is named best rookie in the National League127.
In the fall of 1953, Robinson joined forces with the National Conference of Christians and Jews (NCCJ), which he joined in January 1954128. This organization, founded in 1927129, worked to bring populations together despite racial or religious differences130. The arrival of Robinson at the NCCJ gives him a national visibility which helps his actions130. For Jackie, this is the first step towards organizations dealing with the issue of civil rights.
On April 23, Jackie shines in a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. In the thirteenth inning, he secured the 6-5 victory by stealing two bases and home plate131. “He made the stitch on his own,” journalist Robert Creamer132 said.
Jackie’s last appearance in the All-Star Game133. He is playing in left field. Collectively, the Dodgers finish second in the National League, five wins over the New York Giants134. Robinson maintained his batting average at 0.311 but posted his worst career stolen goal with just seven. The Dodgers’ poor results deteriorated relations between him and Walter O’Malley135. Jackie is tired of playing baseball and therefore prepares for retirement136. He remains particularly marked by a match made in a meeting played a few weeks earlier in Chicago. He was excluded from the field for protest and did not appreciate at all the sarcasm of Walter Alston, manager of the Dodgers since the start of the season136. To finance the purchase of his new house in Stamford, Connecticut, he resigned himself to pursuing his career137. Rumors swell about his transfer. The Pittsburgh Courier even announced his imminent signing with the Pittsburgh Pirates138, but it was indeed in the Dodgers uniform that he would play for the 1955 season. interview published by Look magazine during the offseason139. Sporting News reacts strongly, accusing him of “ingratitude towards baseball”
Despite heated relations between the Dodgers players, Robinson in the first place, and their manager Walter Alston140, Brooklyn started the season well with ten straight wins. At 36, however, Jackie is failing to maintain his batting average. With 0.256, he is having the worst season of his career at this level. Elbow and knee injuries further keep him in the infirmary142. For the first time since 1949, Jackie was not selected to play the Mid-Season All-Star Game. The Dodgers easily grab a new National League title, finishing with 13.5 wins over their runners-up, the Milwaukee Braves.
The New York Yankees still face the Dodgers in the World Series. The press is questioning the possibility of Robinson being sidelined by Alston, but opinions remain favorable to Jackie. Leo Durocher thus declares that “the Dodgers are not yet ready to win without Robinson” 142. Despite the efforts of Jackie who managed to steal home plate in Game 1, 144 the Bronx team won the first two games of the Series, and are slowly heading for a seventeenth success since 1923. To everyone’s surprise, the Dodgers make up their delay, and the decision takes place in the seventh game. The latter was held on October 4 at Yankee Stadium in front of 62,465 spectators145. Helped by his teammates in the field, pitcher Johnny Podres does not allow any points for the Yankees hitters; the Dodgers win 2-0 and finally win the World Series. Robinson is an essential element, by his charisma and his determining role with the other players, in the victory of the Dodgers in the World Series146. For Brooklyn fans, “It was the year” 147 they’ve been waiting too long for, and Jackie is celebrated for a long time despite his sluggish 0.186 Series average against the Yankees148. After the victory, in the corridors of Yankee Stadium, Robinson and Alston shake hands in brotherhood and Jackie tells him: “I want to tell you that I have really enjoyed being with you during this year”. The journalists who witness the scene are very surprised and question Robinson on the spot. He explains: “I had problems with Alston, but I want to pay tribute to him. I am impressed by his management during these series. ”
In the opening of the 1956 season, Jackie hits a home run. Whistles, however, rise from the stands. This home game is being played in Jersey City and Jackie is not in favor of these relocated matches. Walter O’Malley is actually testing the reactions of Brooklyn fans to an upcoming move… He wants to play half a dozen fixtures in Jersey City each season. The campanilism of Jersey City fans and a good dose of racism149 explain the vigor of the whistles. The period is very violent for blacks who are trying to have their rights respected. The segregationists do not lay down their arms, and the attacks on Robinson are more hurtful than ever. He is thus described as an “enemy of his race” 150 by columnist Bill Keefe. Jackie, in particular accused of arrogance, then receives the support of the player by far the most arrogant in the history of the game: Ted Williams. The latter even goes so far as to spit openly several times on the fans of the Red Sox, his team, when they utter insults150. He was fined $ 5,000 from his club, but refused to pay it150. A month later, a law prohibited insults, racist or not, to fans150. Regarding Robinson, Williams would later say, “To my knowledge, no athlete has gone through what Jackie Robinson has gone through. He had a lot of guts. “.
Regaining part of his game with a batting average of 0.275, Jackie finished 16th in the best player of the season vote152 and allowed the Dodgers to win another American League title. The Yankees win with four three-way World Series wins.
After the World Series, the Dodgers tour Japan. Very well received by Japanese fans, Robinson offers them good baseball on the field; baseball engaged. He thus becomes the first player of the Dodgers excluded during a game played in Japan. An expulsion is seen in Japan as a form of infamy, but not in Jackie’s case. Japanese fans, who know his background very well, know that “Robin-San” has the “spirit of the Samurai” 154. He also received a letter of thanks from the United States Ambassador to Japan praising his sportsmanship.
In December, Walter O’Malley transfers Jackie to the Giants. This exchange arouses the anger of the Dodgers fans who especially do not want to see their hero wearing the colors of the rival club155. The New York franchise offered him $ 40,000 for the 1957 season and $ 20,000 per season for the following two years. Some sources cite a proposal of $ 65,000 for the season. Robinson declines the offer after a short period of hesitation.
Robinson announced the end of his career on January 5, 1957. On that date, thirteen of the sixteen Major League teams had integrated black players158. “Why don’t the other three do it?” 159, asks Jackie. He wanted to retrain as a coach, but did not receive any offers from major league franchises. He then became vice-president of the New York restaurant chain Chock full o’Nuts160 then joined the office of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) 161 where he sat until 1967162. He worked alongside Martin Luther King in May 1963 in Birmingham, Alabama after the mass arrests made by the police a few days earlier163. During his retirement from sports, he had very dense correspondence with the highest authorities in the country, including the presidency164. Before going to Birmingham, he sends a very harsh letter to President Kennedy, warning him that “a revolution is underway in the country. It cannot be stopped with police dogs. “165. Robinson dislikes Kennedy because of the timidity of his racial integration policy. Politically, he sided with Richard Nixon at first, but conceded in his memoirs that this choice was not the smartest of his life167. Likewise, he does not like the theses of Malcolm X and his pupil Mohamed Ali. The exchanges by letters or press articles are very lively between the two men168. The assassination of Malcolm X comes as a terrible shock to Robinson, however. He attends his funeral in the front row. Branch Rickey died soon after. This is yet another blow to Robinson, who considered Rickey to be his father. At this funeral, Jackie is dismayed to see only two former black players present. “I really think that by breaking the color barrier in baseball, our national sport, he [Branch Rickey] has done more for black people than any other white man since Abraham Lincoln. 170 says Robinson.
Despite her status, Jackie still experiences racist humiliation at the end of her life. Based in Stamford, Connecticut, he became an avid golf player. He played as a guest on the High Ridge Country Club courses, but was denied access to club membership in 1963171. Two years later, he attempted to acquire a golf course at the edge of the bankruptcy. When Robinson proposes to buy the club located in Mahopac, a hamlet of Carmel in the State of New York, he is told that the club has just been bailed out; it is no longer for sale172. Even disappointment in 1966 when he tried to create a golf course in Lewisboro, still in New York State. The local population is mobilizing against the project. Supported by the NAACP, Jackie sues each time, but loses his cases173.
In 1967, Jackie’s quest for equality was caught between the extremist option of Black Power and the anti-militarist aspirations of the anti-war movement in Vietnam. Robinson even goes so far as to criticize Martin Luther King for falling silent on civil rights. He wrote an open letter published at the beginning of May 1967 in which he called on King to cease his attacks on American foreign policy in Vietnam and to return to internal questions174. Robinson did not want to cut ties with Martin Luther King, however. The affair is settled between the two men who respect each other sincerely via a phone call. As Robinson admits in his memoir: King fails to convince Jackie, especially since he clearly explains, as he will the next day in public, that opposition to the Vietnam War does not allow any compromise. Pacifism is not Robinson’s fight. Six months later, Martin Luther King is assassinated. Robinson hails him as “the greatest leader of the twentieth century” 176. On the other hand, Black Power radicals reject Robinson’s egalitarian option, calling him “Uncle Tom”. Always accustomed to receiving hate mail and death threats from white extremists, he is now the target of black extremists. Robinson does not complain, but refuses to be silent.
Weakened by a heart attack and the terrible year 1968 which notably saw the disappearance of Martin Luther King and his mother, Jackie slammed the door of the NAACP, which he criticized for not being sufficiently militant178. He thus remains extremely active in the field of the fight against racism and continues on his egalitarian line, refusing, for example, to attend a former match in 1969 in order to protest against the absence of black managers in the major leagues. . This step was taken three years after his death by Frank Robinson (1975).
In 1970, Jackie struck an agreement with Arthur Sutton, Mickey Weissman and Richard Cohen, three solid real estate agents, to create the Jackie Robinson Construction Corporation179. Its purpose is to provide the most disadvantaged with a home179. The following year, he experienced the pain of losing his eldest son in a traffic accident. Jackie Junior had become addicted to drugs during the Vietnam War178.
Deprived of diabetes and nearly blind, Robinson made his last public outing for the 1972 World Series. He received a plaque commemorating the 25th anniversary of his arrival in Major League and said: “I am extremely proud and happy, but I’ll be a lot happier and proud again when I see a black face down the third base line as a baseball manager. “180. Nine days later, on October 24, 1972, Jackie suffered a myocardial infarction at her home in Stamford. He died at the age of 53 in the ambulance transporting him to the city hospital, where he was declared dead on his arrival181. His funeral takes place on October 29. Jackie’s eulogy is delivered by Jesse Jackson in front of an audience comprising celebrities and strangers, blacks and whites. He is buried in Brooklyn’s Cypress Hills Cemetery, not far from the site where Ebbets Field once stood, home of the Dodgers.
Jackie Robinson in popular culture
From 1947, Jackie inspired no less than four songs including The Jackie Robinson Boogie and Jackie Robinson Blues183. The most famous title dedicated to Robinson dates from 1949. Buddy Johnson signs Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball? who knows multiple covers of which the best known is that of Count Basie with Taps Miller on vocals. This baseball standard reached 13th position on the American charts183.
In Alfred E. Green’s film The Jackie Robinson Story (1950), Jackie plays his own role in an attempt to reenact his arrival in the big leagues. Released on May 16, 1950, this low-budget film was a hit at the box office184. Kevin Rodney Sullivan’s TV movie The Color of Baseball (Soul of the Game, 1996) also explores Jackie’s early days, but the focus here is on the 1945 season, when Jackie played in the Negro League. Larry Peerce’s TV movie The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson (1990) focuses on Jackie’s military period.
Robinson’s cinematic references are not limited to these biographical films alone. Mookie, the main character of Do the Right Thing (1989) by Spike Lee, wears throughout the film a jersey flocked with the famous number 42185. In Brooklyn Boogie (Blue in the Face, 1995) by Paul Auster and Wayne Wang, it’s Jackie’s ghost that intervenes186. In the field of fiction, we can also cite the classic of children’s literature In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson (1984) by Bette Bao Lord186,187.
On the occasion of the release of his autobiographical film, Jackie made the cover of Life magazine on May 8, 1950 (no 703) 188. He is the first black to know this honor.
Three US Postal stamps (20c in 1982189, 33c in 1999 and 33c in 2000) 190 bear the effigy of Jackie. He is the first baseball player to appear on a191 stamp.
Some sports media compile lists of outstanding athletes. Robinson appears in 16th place in Sports Illustrated’s (1999) 192 ranking of the greatest champions of the twentieth century. In the same year 1999, ESPN ranked him 15th among the best North American sportsmen of the twentieth century193. It was already cited in 15th place in 1961 by the newspaper El Universal of Caracas in Venezuela194. TIME places Jackie among the 100 most important personalities of the 20th century195. Only two other athletes appear in this selection: Brazilian footballer Pelé and American boxer Mohamed Ali195. On the other hand, Robinson is relegated to the list of sportsmen who “could have been the 101st”, in the work of L’Équipe classifying the 100 most important sportsmen of the twentieth century196.
In 2005, Antonio Lewis Todd played Jackie Robinson in an episode of season 3 of Cold Case: Classified Affairs in which an African-American baseball player was murdered in 1945197.
Jackie Robinson’s legacy
Jackie Robinson’s influence on American society is major. He was not the first black to shine on the media scene, but he was the first to use his media coverage in the service of his fight: equality. His actions were decisive for the “Civil Rights Revolution” 2. Starting pitcher Ralph Branca, who played alongside Jackie in the Dodgers, says “Jackie paved the way for Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King and all the other black leaders who were going to fight for racial equality” 200. The epilogue of Jackie’s autobiography opens with a famous quote full of altruism which will be engraved on her grave: “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives. (“A life is not important except for the impact it has on other lives”) 201.
Prior to the publication of her memoir in 1972, Jackie used film, newspapers and radio to advance the cause of equality. From the beginning of the 1950s, he took part in the radio program This I believe on CBS, which offered his guests a presentation of their philosophy of life. Robinson is brilliant in this program which aired for the first time on December 7, 1952202 using formulas which would later be widely repeated: “I believe in the human race”, “no guarantees, but a chance” or “I believe in the human race”. goodness of a free society ”, in particular203. He is fully aware that his debut in the Major League despite the racial ban is only one step; it must serve as an example to others to move society forward towards racial equality. To those who point out to him that American society is too anchored in its racial approaches, he replies on the contrary that this fight is winnable, and that it will be won: “Progress will modify the dogmas in force today”
As a prelude to the Democratic Party Convention from August 25 to 28, 2008 which officially nominates Barack Obama for the presidency of the United States, Jesse Jackson, Jr. uses the example of Robinson, and calls on Hillary and Bill Clinton to have a reaction to the Pee Wee Reese.
In baseball, Jackie introduced the game played in the Negro Leagues37 into the Major League, thus putting an end to the era of long balls, an era in which only home runs were king. His speed and imposing physique work wonders in a running position. He thus manages to steal marble nineteen times206. At batting, in addition to his consistency (0.311 career average), Jackie uses the full range of strokes, deadlines and other sacrifices included, typical of the Negro Leagues. In defense, Robinson is also very efficient, especially when it comes to double play207. Despite his performances and his contributions to the evolution of the game, the Sporting News only ranks Robinson 44th in its list of the 100 best baseball players published in 1999. Bill James explains in his Historical Baseball Abstract that Robinson is perceived as a historical figure and not a baseball player, too, his athletic performance is undermined207. He ranks Robinson 32nd best baseball player in history208. In 1999, Jackie was elected by fans to the Team of the Century as second baseman ahead of Rogers Hornsby and Joe Morgan.
Titles and honors
Jackie Robinson was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on January 23, 1962, in his first year of eligibility. The number 42 that Robinson wore was retired from the Dodgers on June 4, 1972 then, unique honor, from all MLB baseball franchises on April 15, 1997. Since 2004, the League has dedicated April 15 to Robinson’s memory. with “Jackie Robinson Day”. On April 15, 2007, a special celebration marks the sixtieth anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s Major League debut. On this occasion, more than 200 players wear a jersey stamped with the number 42, that of Robinson. From 2009, wearing the number 42 becomes compulsory on April 15 in the Major League for all players, referees, managers and instructors210.
Among the many awards honoring the memory of Jackie Robinson are the Presidential Medal of Freedom, awarded in 1984, and the Gold Medal of Congress (2003). These are the two highest American civilian honors. He received the Spingarn Medal at the end of 1956. This annual honor is awarded by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Among the dedications, the home base for the UCLA Bruins is Jackie Robinson Stadium211. A Jackie Robinson rotunda sits at the entrance to the New York Mets’ new stadium, inaugurated in April 2009: Citi Field212. The bust of Jackie and that of her brother Mack adorn the forecourt of the town hall of Pasadena. His home in Stamford, Connecticut has been a National Historic Landmark since 1976213. In 2011, a commemorative plaque was unveiled at the house he lived in in Montreal, 8232 avenue De Gaspé.
- United States University Champion (NCAA) in long jump: 1940.
- Top scorer in the South Division of the Pacific Coast Conference: 1940, 1941.
- Selected to NCAA All-American Team: 1941.
- Member of the Sports Hall of Fame at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) since its founding in 1965.
- Member of the All-Star Team: 1945.
- Triple-A Champion: 1946.
- Champion of the International League: 1946.
- World Series winner: 1955.
- Champion of the National League: 1947, 1949, 1952, 1953, 1955 and 1956.
- Best New Player: 1947 (the first player to receive this award).
- Best Major League player in the National League: 1949.
- National League batting average leader: 1949.
- Leader of stolen goals in the National League: 1947 and 1949.
- Member of the All-Star Team: 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953 and 1954.
- Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.
- Member of the Team of the Century (1999).
- Shirt retired by the Dodgers in 1972.
- Shirt retired by the MLB in 1997.
- Jackie Robinson Day (April 15) since 2004.
- Compulsory wearing of No. 42 on the occasion of Jackie Robinson Day since 2009.
Non-sporting titles and honors
- Presidential Medal of Freedom (1984).
- Gold Medal of Congress (2003).
- Spingarn Medal (1956).