|Airdate||January 30, 2007|
Jackie Robinson is a BrainPOP Social Studies video that launched on January 30, 2007.
- "No, I don't think being the first robot umpire makes you the new Jackie Robinson." - Tim
From about 1885 until Jackie Robinson broke the major league color barrier in 1947, hundreds of all-black professional baseball teams came and went. These teams made up what were known as the Negro Leagues.
Negro League teams ranged from rag-tag traveling teams to wealthier, well-established organizations that catered to the sizable African-American communities in major American cities. Often, these teams played exhibition games against major league teams or traveling teams comprised of major league stars—and in 60 percent of these contests, the African-American teams won!
Although white America was barely even aware of their existence at the time, Negro League players have since been embraced and honored by the baseball establishment. As of 2008, 35 Negro League players have been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame!
Some of the greatest Negro League stars included: Center fielder James “Cool Papa” Bell, who is considered by many the fastest man who ever played pro baseball; catcher Josh Gibson, who hit an astounding 69 home runs in 1934; center fielder Oscar Charleston, who was ranked by statistical guru Bill James as the fourth-best player in the history of baseball; Rube Foster, a star pitcher who also founded the first lasting African-American major league; and Satchel Paige (pictured), who pitched 20 years in the Negro Leagues before pitching an additional 10 in the majors.
In Depth Edit
Before the 20th century, professional baseball wasn’t organized the way it is today; it was comprised of several independent leagues that competed against one another for players and fans. Some of these leagues were integrated, and some weren’t.
In 1884, African-American catcher Moses Fleetwood Walker played one year in a major league called the American Association. Other teams featured black players, too. But there were so many racist whites involved in baseball that it soon became impossible for teams to field integrated lineups.
Of course, not every player, manager, and owner was a racist. New York Giants manager John McGraw once even tried to sneak an African-American second baseman onto his team by claiming he was a Cherokee named “Chief Tokohama.” But the racists who were part of the game put considerable pressure on everyone else by threatening strikes or violence if African Americans were admitted into baseball.
Cap Anson, who starred for and managed the Chicago White Stockings during the late 19th century, was especially notorious for refusing to take the field against any non-white opponent. In 1920, Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis became Commissioner of Baseball, and he was determined to uphold segregation for personal as well as legal reasons—“separate but equal” was, after all, the law of the land. It wasn’t until after World War II, after Landis had been replaced by the more integration-friendly A.B. “Happy” Chandler, that baseball was ready for its first African-American stars.
Way Back When Edit
Jackie Robinson played his entire 10-year career for the Brooklyn Dodgers, one of the most legendary teams in baseball history.
The Dodgers were formed in 1883 and named after the fact that players and fans had to “dodge” the trolleys that traversed Brooklyn’s crisscrossing maze of streetcar tracks. They played in a cozy ballpark called Ebbets Field, which was squeezed into a city block in Brooklyn’s Flatbush neighborhood. Ebbets Field was similar to Fenway Park, and the love and fierce loyalty the Dodgers inspired among their fans is similar to the fervor you can find among Boston Red Sox fans today.
For the first 60 years of their existence, the Dodgers more or less stunk, but things began to change by the beginning of the 1940s. From 1947 to 1956, they were the best team in the National League, and they went to the World Series six times. Their rivals were the New York Yankees, who beat them in five of those six World Series, until the Dodgers finally triumphed to win their first-ever championship in 1955.
Unlike the all-white Yankees, the Dodgers of those years (nicknamed the “Boys of Summer” by author Roger Kahn) were fully integrated, and featured African-American stars like Robinson, catcher Roy Campanella, and pitcher Don Newcombe alongside white stars like shortstop Pee Wee Reese, first baseman Gil Hodges, and centerfielder Duke Snider.
The Dodgers left Brooklyn for Los Angeles in 1958, but they are still fondly remembered by a generation of older fans.
“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” – Jackie Robinson.
“I’m not concerned with you liking or disliking me. All I ask is that you respect me as a human being.” – Jackie Robinson.
“There was never a man in the game who could put mind and muscle together quicker and with better judgment than Jackie Robinson.” –Branch Rickey, American baseball executive.
"[Jackie Robinson’s] was the most eagerly anticipated debut in the annals of the national pastime. It represented both the dream and the fear of equal opportunity, and it would change forever the complexion of the game and the attitudes of Americans." –Robert Lipsyte, American author and sports journalist.
"Robinson could hit and bunt and steal and run. He had intimidation skills, and he burned with a dark fire. He wanted passionately to win. He bore the burden of a pioneer and the weight made him stronger. If one can be certain of anything in baseball, it is that we shall not look upon his like again." –Roger Kahn (pictured), American author.
There is no comic.