Remembering Jackie Robinson
was born in Cairo, Georgia on the last day of January in 1919, and died
October 24, 1972 in Stamford, Connecticut. Robinson attended UCLA,
where he won
letters in three sports.
was in the Army during World War II and then played briefly in the
Leagues when the war ended. He was signed to a minor league contract
Montreal Royals in 1946 by Branch Rickey, and the following year came
up to the
Brooklyn Dodgers and broke baseball's age-old color line.
played in the major leagues for a decade. He won the inaugural Rookie
Year Award in 1947, the National League Most Valuable Player Award in
he helped the Dodgers win six pennants and one world championship.
all the pressure he played under, he was still able to record a
batting average of .311. His base-stealing ability and hustle won many
for the Dodgers. He set several records for fielding for second
influence on sports is immeasurable. His breaking of baseball's color
against the greatest of odds is still one of the most dramatic stories
of sports history. And there are those who still have special memories
man and the legend. Here is how one from that time still remembers the
player Brooklyn Dodger fans called "Robby".
school was out, I sometimes went with my father in his taxi. One summer
morning, we were driving in East Flatbush in Brooklyn down Snyder
father pointed to a dark red brick house with a high porch.
think Jackie Robinson lives there,” my father said. He parked across
and we got out of the cab, stood on the sidewalk and looked at the
Suddenly, the front door opened. A black man in a short-sleeved shirt
out. I didn't believe it. Here we were on a quiet street on a summer
with no one else around.
man was not wearing the baggy, ice-cream-white-uniform of the Brooklyn
that accentuated his blackness. He was dressed in regular clothes,
of a regular house in a regular Brooklyn neighborhood, a guy like
going out for a bottle of milk and a newspaper.
incredibly, he crossed the street and came right toward me. Seeing that
unmistakable pigeon-toed walk, the rock of the shoulders and hips that
seen so many times before on the baseball field, I had no doubt who it
Jackie, I'm one of your biggest fans," I said self-consciously. “Do you
think the Dodgers are going to win the pennant this year?”
handsome face looked sternly down at me. “We'll try our best,” he
luck,” I said.”
put his big hand out, and I took it. We shook hands and I felt the
firmness of his grip. I was a nervy kid, but I didn't ask for an
try to prolong the conversation. I just he walked away down the street.
was my first personal contact with Jackie Robinson. Years later I came
him in downtown Brooklyn in a Chock Full O Nuts coffee shop. He was the
president and director of personnel. Now he was heavier,
gray-haired, slowed, sitting at the counter. We chatted a bit but the
was sadder, even poignant for me to see how this great athlete had been
by time and illness. He did not remember our chance meeting that long
summer day but I did.
was my first real hero and one of the most important figures in the
history of sports.
of the most prolific and respected sports journalists
and oral historians in the United States, author of the autobiographies
legends Nolan Ryan,Tony Dorsett, and Red Holzman, Dr. Harvey
Frommer is an
expert on the New York Yankees and has arguably written more books,
and reviews on the New York Yankees than anyone.
professor for more
than two decades in the MALS program at Dartmouth College, Frommer was
“Dartmouth’s Mr. Baseball” by their alumni magazine. He’s also the
founder of www.HarveyFrommerSports.com.
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