Jackie Robinson

The billboard in Palm Springs showed a young Jackie Robinson swinging a baseball bat with the headline, “Character. Pass it on.” Nearly 40 years after his death, people still appreciate Robinson’s achievements, on and off the field.

Jackie Robinson, a legend, a hero, a baseball wonder.

Now on the face of your next trading pin.

Jackie Roosevelt Robinson was the first African American Major League baseball player of the modern era. He was not the first, but his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers broke the baseball color line and ended nearly 60 years of segregation.

Robinson was an exceptional second baseman. His batting average was .311, with 1,518 hits, 137 home runs and 197 stolen bases. In 1947, he won “Rookie of the Year” and two years later,  “MVP” for the National League. Robinson played in six World Series and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962. Later, he helped establish the Freedom National Bank in Harlem.

At an early age, Robinson started building his character; after all, he was named after President Theodore Roosevelt. He was the youngest of five children of a Georgia sharecropper. When his father left, Robinson’s mother moved to Pasadena, CA, where they lived in poverty. Despite that, Robinson excelled in football, basketball, baseball, and track in high school, and later at Pasadena Junior College and UCLA. Robinson left UCLA early to help alleviate his mother’s financial burden.

Even after joining the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1945, things were not easy for Robinson. He was segregated from his teammates in hotels and restaurants, and met racism from fans and players on the field.

Some would aim pitches at his head, while others tried to hit, tackle and push him off the base line. Some Dodgers players said they’d rather sit out than play alongside him. However, when several Philadelphia Phillies players shouted racial epithets at Robinson, his teammates united alongside him. Robinson learned that the best way to combat racism was to be them squarely on the field.

Like the billboard states, Robinson’s character still serves as an inspiration for young players of all colors.