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Jackie Robinson: Baseball's Hero

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Jackie Robinson: Baseball's Hero
(Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Imagine you're watching a Red Sox-Yankees game. C.C. Sabathia has managed two outs in the inning and is ahead 1-2 in the count to David Ortiz. The Sox are down 2-1 in the bottom of the ninth, after Sabathia had pitched a gem.

Sox fans, imagine the fire burning your insides, as your stomach roller coaster through the emotions involved with the last out against those damn Yankees.

Yankees fans, imagine the pain you felt when Ortiz scorched your team in the 2004 ALCS, imagine yourself praying that Papi could not, and would not do it again.

Now stop. Imagine neither Ortiz nor Sabathia was playing. It's a really empty memory, isn't it?

If it weren't for Jackie Robinson's brave, heroic efforts, that's what it would be.

Jackie Robinson, a gifted baseball, football, and tennis player as well as a top-notch swimmer, opened doors for African-American and Hispanic ball players. He allowed modern day baseball to be what it is today.

In 1945, Robinson played his only career in the Negro Leagues. He put up a stellar batting average, as he hit .387.

The team formerly known as the Brooklyn Dodgers decided that skin color was no way to determine eligibility to play in America's favorite sport. They felt that if a guy had talent, he should be allowed to compete in the big leagues.

As a result, Brooklyn took a shot with Robinson, and in 1946 signed him to a Major League Contract, all the while knowing that they were gambling. If Robinson didn't work out, Brooklyn fans would be calling for not only the Dodgers' throat, but Jackie's, too.

Robinson played through the immense pressure. Not only was he the first ever black player in the Major Leagues, but he was also under the scrutiny of one of the most passionate fans in the game. The Dodger fans were those who watched the team drop easy fly balls, as they started to expect lapses.

Jackie hit .311 in his career, with 137 home runs and 197 steals. In other words, the Dodgers' gamble paid off, as they went all in and came out with a Royal Flush.

Jackie Robinson was so good, he "walked into a white man's world...and he did a thing mightier than play baseball, he put his name in the history books." Unfortunately, on some occasions, Jackie wasn't even able to walk into a "white man's world," as restaurant and hotel owners refused to allow a black man into their buildings.

Despite the daily attacks and death threats that were directed towards him, Robinson continued to compete.

Robinson not only desegregated baseball, but he also gave African-Americans around the nation hope. In other words, he allowed regular, everyday African-Americans and Hispanics to keep working hard with their heads held high. A baseball player inspired the entire country.

For the first time, minorities were able to connect with the formerly Caucasian game of baseball.

One fan said, "To see Jackie Robinson in the Brooklyn lineup gave us hope." He reminded people to keep their dreams in mind, and never give up hope.

He truly embodied the statement, "Never give up."

Now, I want you to think about the legendary hug Pee Wee Reese shared with his teammate Jackie Robinson. It was a symbol of hope for whites and blacks alike, a symbol that someday, Hispanics and African-Americans would be accepted into American society.

That single hug illustrated the American Dream, as a man who fought through adversity, a man who always looked forward but lived in the now, was able to reach success.

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