Greatest Sports Accomplishment - Part 1
this tumultuous century nears its end, the proliferation of all kinds of
lists and rankings of the greatest sports figures, games, and events keeps
on increasing. Many of the marker times and personalities are well
deserving of honor and hype.
from my point of view there is no event as significant as the breaking of
baseball's color Line. It changed the national pastime forever. It ushered
in a whole new era in baseball and in all sports. Here is what it was like
at the very start.
the blue number 42 on the back of his Brooklyn Dodger home uniform, Jackie
Robinson took his place at first base at Ebbets Field on April 15, 1947.
It was 32 years to the day since Jack Johnson had become the first black
heavyweight champion of the world.
of the 26,633 at that tiny ballpark on that chilly spring day were not
even baseball fans, but had come out to see "the one" who would
break the sport's age-old color line. Robinson's wife, Rachel, was there
along with the infant Jackie, Jr. Many in the crowd wore "I'm for
Jackie" buttons and badges, and screamed each time the black pioneer
came to bat or touched the ball.
Robinson grounded out to short his first time up. He was retired on a fly
ball to left field in his second at bat. He grounded into a rally-killing
double play in his final at bat of the day.
Dodgers won the game, 5-3, nipping Johnny Sain and the Boston Braves. For
Robinson it was a muted performance, but the first of 1,382 major league
games was in the record books - and he had broken baseball's color line
was nervous on my first day in my first game at Ebbets Field,"
Robinson told reporters
"But nothing has bothered me since."
April 18, 1947, at the Polo Grounds, in the shadow of the largest black
community in the country, Jackie Robinson smashed his first major league
home run as the Dodgers defeated the Giants, 10-4.
James Baldwin had noted: "Back in the thirties and forties, Joe Louis
was the only hero that we ever had. When he won a fight, everybody in
Harlem was up in heaven. On that April day the large contingent of blacks
in the crowd of nearly 40, 000 had another hero to be "up in
heaven" about, another hero to stand beside Joe Louis."
sociological phenomenon, part entertainment spectacle, part revolution,
part media event - the Jackie Robinson story played out its poignant,
dramatic and historic scenes through that 1947 season.
the end of the season, a Jackie Robinson Day was staged at Ebbets Field.
Robinson was now a major drawing card rivaling Bob Feller and Ted Williams
in the American League.
thank you all." Robinson said over the microphone in that
high-pitched voice. He acknowledged the gifts he'd received, which
included a new car, a television and radio set and an electric broiler.
stood next to the Jackie Robinson.
am 69 years old," Bill Robinson said. "But I never thought I
would live to see the day when I would stand face to face with Ty Cobb in
Frommer is the author of more than 30 sports books including
Joe and Ragtime Baseball," and "The New York Yankee
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About the Author:
Harvey Frommer is in his 38th year of writing books.
A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 42 sports
books including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and
"Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE
STADIUM was published in 2008 and his REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL
AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION was published to
acclaim in 2011. The prolific Frommer is at work on When It Was
Just a Game, An Oral History on Super Bowel One.
His work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times,
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