Jackie Robinson & Japan

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April 15, 2013 10:15 AM by Wade Blogs

Jackie Robinson SwingToday is a great day to be an American. April 15, 1947 Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball when he donned the uniform for the first time as a Brooklyn Dodger. We all know how legendary he was but what you may not know his whole story. I would love to write 10,000 word expose on this wonderful man but I simply do not have the time and I feel it would not even do a smidgen of justice to his heroic life.

Most people know Jackie was a multi-sport athlete at UCLA in the 30s. But did you know his older brother, Frank Robinson (not the baseball player), was a silver medalist at the 1936 Summer Olympics (track)?

After taking a job as an athletic director just shy of graduation from UCLA, Robinson traveled to Honolulu in fall 1941 to play football for the semi-professional and racially integrated Honolulu Bears. After a short season, Robinson returned to his home state of  California in December 1941 to pursue a career as a running back for the Los Angeles Bulldogs of the Pacific Coast Football League. But by December 1941 a little thing called Pearl Harbor changed history in a big big way. Yes we were a part of the international conflict that would take the lives on hundred of thousands of our young men in combat. Without Pearl Harbor, Jackie Robinson does not seek a chance to play baseball.

Robinson was in Officer Candidate School (OCS) when he met some Kansas City Monarch players who gave him advice on potentially playing for them in the future. Robinson was subject to a bogus racially fueled disagreement without army ranks and did not see any action in combat during WWII. He later took a position as athletic director and basketball coach at Sam Houston College. He signed a contract for $400 a month ($5k in 2013) with the Kansas City Monarchs are the rest is history.

I use this example frequently, especially when bad things (Pearl Harbor) happen and innocent people die. You never know what good can come out of something so horrific. If Pearl Harbor never happened, Jackie would have played football and who knows how long the segregation of baseball would last?!

Imagine no Willie Mays, Larry Dobbie, Bob Gibson, Frank Robinson, Elston Howard, Reggie Jackson, Ken Griffey Jr, Frank Thomas…the list is endless.

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