Sunday, April 15, 2012

Dime Box Heroes: Number 42

2001 Upper Deck Hall of Famers #62 Jackie Robinson NP

April 15, 1947.

The day baseball history was made.

On that date, Jackie Robinson became the first African-American player in the 20th century to play in a major league game, hitting second and playing first base in a game against the Boston Braves.

The game has never been the same since.

Off the field, Robinson probably had to endure more than any of us could ever imagine in his time as a big-league ballplayer. Amazingly, he maintained his composure the entire time, a testament to just how strong of a person he was. Today's game is a melting pot of different races and origins, none of which would have been possible without Robinson leading the way.

What might get lost in the shuffle sometimes is that Robinson was a heck of a ballplayer as well, always playing with a hard-nosed edge that made heads turn (as shown by the above card). He captured the first-ever NL Rookie of the Year award for his 1947 season, in which he hit .287 and led the league with 29 stolen bases. He'd go on to win the NL MVP award in '49 with a .342 average and a league-leading 37 steals. He'd be elected to six All-Star teams in his ten-year career. 

A true Hall-of-Fame career, regardless of his race.

Today, every ballplayer wears the hallowed number 42 as a tribute to the late Jackie Robinson. While it may get confusing at times seeing a #42 at second and third, it's the perfect tribute to a true pioneer in the game of baseball.

It's a day that will always be remembered.

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