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Sample essay topic, essay writing: Jackie Robinson - 1657 words
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Baseball has always been America's national pastime. In the early and all the way into the mid 50's, baseball was America and America was baseball. The only thing lacking in the great game was the absence of African American players and the presence of an all white sport. America still wasn't friendly or accepted the African American race and many still held great prejudice towards them. All this would change when the general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Branch Rickey decided he was going to sign a Negro player. Jackie Robinson was that player and Jackie Robinson changed the game, America, and history. By looking specifically at his childhood adversity, college life and the hardships he encountered by becoming the first black player in the game, it will be shown why Jackie Robinson is a great American story and hero.Jackie Robinson was born in Cairo, Georgia to a family of sharecroppers and then moved to Pasadena, California.
His mother Millie raised Jackie and four others single-handedly in a neighborhood where they were the only blacks on the block (Duckett 19). In Pasadena is where Jackie would first realize his color would bring him much grief and heartache in the many coming years. Here, Jackie grew up poor, on a good day he would get two meals a day, but usually depended on the leftovers his mother could bring home from work. Many of the whites in the neighborhood and surrounding areas would try to buy them out, beg them to move, and threaten them if they didn't. The Robinson's stayed strong and never budged as they were determined to stay (Duckett 21). Jackie would move on to bigger and better things as Jackie stared in high school athletics and moved onto college. Pasadena Junior College was Jackie's first stop as he enrolled into a very liberal school which did deal with blacks better than most
This was overshadowed by his brother being there and being known as the country's premier amateur sprinter (Daniels 68). Here Jackie quickly developed into a star baseball player and athlete and quickly became known as a great athlete, but most importantly his baseball game was taking off. Jackie also developed a great love for football here and could have been just as good, if not his first love of baseball. Jackie spent 1937 to 1939 at PJC and then moved on to his next greatest achievement, UCLA.Jackie ended many months of rumors, anticipation, and the hopes of many by enrolling at UCLA where he received a lot of positive and negative attention. Here Jackie would begin making history and rewriting record books. UCLA still was hard for Jackie as they didn't allow blacks to live in Westwood, attend socials, work on campus, and they had no black professors (Daniels 97). Jackie slowly made his way into the hearts of UCLA by becoming the first athlete to letter in four sports: baseball, football, track, and basketball (Tygiel 55).
Jackie graduated from UCLA after becoming one of the greatest athletes to ever step foot on their campus.After college, Jackie experimented with different jobs but he just didn't like anyone. He had offers to play football and Negro league baseball but felt like he had no future in professional sports. After one the darkest days in American history, Pearl Harbor, Jackie was drafted into the war. Jackie had mixed emotions with the war because he was willing to do his part but didn't like how blacks were being treated in the military. Jackie left for the military and from day one was called a n***** and other racial terms which left Jackie feeling down and out.
"I never understood why they wouldn't accept me, there was a good chance that we were going to die together, so we might as well be friends" (Chadwick 367). Jackie quickly began to gain a little respect when he was named an expert marksman, but not enough for them to let him play baseball with the whites. Jackie would spend three years in the military, which to this day, hasn't talked a lot about and held anger and hostility towards (Chadwick 380). After the war, Jackie stilled had no profession, but felt like God had something special in store for him. In November 1944, he was passing by a field in Kansas City where the Negro league team, the Kansas City Monarchs was playing and he thought, why not? The Negro Leagues were depleted of talent because of the war so they accepted Jackie with open arms. This is where Jackie would build his legend as he blossomed into a star.
In 1946, Branch Dickey decided he was going to break the barrier and sign a Negro league player, the only question was who? Josh Gibson was the best talent but had a history of tempers, anger, and abuse. Satchel Paige was the best pitcher but they felt he was too old. When Rickey began to watch Jackie, he noticed his speed and ability to take over a game. Rickey also knew Robinson was an educated man and grew up with lots of racism, so he felt like Robinson could handle the absolute hell he would have to take by breaking the barrier (Daniels 167).Robinson didn't really understand why Rickey wanted to sign him and not Gibson, who is considered by many as the greatest power hitter of all time. Rickey managed to sell Robinson on the idea, after Jackie didn't act to interested. Robinson finally signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers, and then all hell broke lose.
The instant it hit the paper, mail poured into Robinson, most of it death threats. "You gonna die n*****, you step foot on that field", "we can hang you to", and "you won't make it off the bus you sorry n*****." (Tygiel 212). Robinson's main concern was his teammates and how they would accept him.When Jackie first walked into the locker room, a sudden silence fell over and "I have never felt so scared and alone in my life" (Daniels 191). His teammates said nothing to him for a few hours but once he got on the field and showed them that he could play, and most importantly help them win, he slowly became accepted. On April 11, 1947 Jackie made history as he played his first game for the Dodgers. "When I left that day, I thought I would never see my wife again, I honestly thought that someone was going to kill me".
(Chadwick 201). Robinson in his first year had more balls thrown at his head than the rest of the league combined. As the season went on and on, his teammates would stick up for him more and more. In Jackie's first year, he led the league in stolen bases and was named Rookie of the Year. "That was the worst year of my life, I never knew if I would be alive the next day, I was called a n***** a million times, spit on, had everything you can imagine thrown at me", "I would ask myself, is it really worth it" (Duckett 114)?After Jackie's first year, he would continue to experience hatred till the end of his career but nothing could stop him now.
Jackie led the league in stolen bases in 1947 and 1949 and was selected to his first all star team in 1949 while hitting .342 and winning the NL MVP. He would lead the Dodgers to 6 World Series and win one of them, led second baseman in double plays 4 years, and became the best second baseman in baseball (Faulkner 132). Jackie earned a reputation as an aggressive player who could take over the game and was the games biggest competitor. "He was the greatest competitor I have ever seen, he had the heart of lion," said his teammate Duke Snider (Duckett 691).When Jackie left baseball he had already opened the door for other blacks, as they began their journey in Major League Baseball. The greatest thing about Jackie Robinson is his legacy didn't stop with baseball.
In 1952, Jackie opened a men's clothing store in Harlem. In 1957, Jackie became heavily involved in the NAACP all the way through 1967 while eventually earning the prestigious Springarn Medal from the NAACP (Daniels 264). One of Jackie's greatest honors came in 1962, in his first year of eligibility he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame with Branch Rickey presenting his award (Tygiel 714). Shortly before his death, Jackie became the first black to throw out the first pitch of a World Series to celebrate the 25th anniversary. On October 24, 1972 Jackie Robinson died of a heart attack just a year after his son was killed in an automobile accident (Duckett 314). In 1997 Robinson was honored in what many people believe is the greatest honor ever achieved for a baseball player.
With the attendance of President Bill Clinton, the First Lady and Jackie Robinson's wife, Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig announced that number 42, the number of Jackie Robinson, would never be worn again and retired in all 30 major league baseball stadiums. In honor of the 50th year anniversary of Robinson breaking the color barrier, all teams wore commemorative patches on their uniforms to honor Robinson. The legend of Jackie Robinson will never be forgotten, as his memory will forever be here as a reminder of his achievements. The doors he opened for so many can never be closed. America is about Freedom and Jackie Robinson is symbolic of freedom and life.
Roy Campanella best said it about Jackie and freedom, "When Jackie took the field, something within us reminded us of our birthright to be free" (Chadwick 352). There are very few who have had the impact on a game, history, and America as Robinson did. He touched more lives then anyone of his time. Many people feel a person's life is judged on what they did for others, well Jackie Robinson's life was a success. "A life is not important except the impact it has on others" (Chadwick 417).
Thank you Jackie, you are gone but not forgotten.
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