Happy Birthday Jackie Robinson – January 31, 1919

o jackie robinson

Jackie Robinson was born one hundred years ago today.

Seventy two years ago this coming April 15th the Brooklyn Dodgers broke the color line at Ebitts Field when Jackie Robinson took the field, playing first base.  The door was opened and it was the beginning of the end of the Negro leagues.

I was 5 years old.

By the time I was 10 I would be sitting in the bleachers with my friends screaming our heads off for Jackie, Roy Campanella, Don Newcomb.  There were plenty of black kids too, from Bed-Sty screaming right along with us.   Nobody was black or white to us kids; it only mattered if you were Dodger blue.

Larry Doby would integrate the Cleveland Indians, Monte Irvin joined the Giants and Ernie Banks, the Chicago Cubs.

They paved the way for Willie Mays and Hank Aaron.

I would watch Jackie, Campy and Newk until the Dodgers left for L. A.   I would see Willie Mays and Hank Aaron in our band box of a ball park.

Jackie made his first all-star team in 1949, receiving more votes from the fans than anyone except Ted Williams.  And he was still a star player in 1955 when the Dodgers finally beat the hated Yankees in the World Series.

And wherever baseball was played the hotels were desegregated and the restaurants were desegregated if they wanted to house or feed a major league baseball team.

When Jack and his wife Rachel couldn’t buy a home in Stamford, Connecticut because of racial bias,  Andrea Simon of Simon and Schuster (and Carlie Simon’s mom) invited them to stay in her home temporarily and worked tirelessly to fight the prejudice.  The Robinson’s broke the color line in Stamford.

Jack Robinson’s number 42 has been retired all across baseball;  nobody wears 42 anymore in honor of Jack.

Each April 15, Jackie Robinson Day, the day in 1947 when Jackie first took the field in Brooklyn, all baseball players taking the field wear number 42.

I can honestly say that, for the kids in Brooklyn in 1955, we didn’t know what the hub-bub was all about.

None of it mattered if you could play.

Happy 100th birthday Jack Robinson.




About toritto

I was born during year four of the reign of Emperor Tiberius Claudius on the outskirts of the empire in Brooklyn. I married my high school sweetheart, the girl I took to the prom and we were together for forty years until her passing in 2004. We had four kids together and buried two together. I had a successful career in Corporate America (never got rich but made a living) and traveled the world. I am currently retired in the Tampa Bay metro area and live alone. One of my daughters is close by and one within a morning’s drive. They call their pops everyday. I try to write poetry (not very well), and about family. Occasionally I will try a historical piece relating to politics. :-)
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7 Responses to Happy Birthday Jackie Robinson – January 31, 1919

  1. beetleypete says:

    I know next to nothing about baseball, but it took a lot longer for sports to be fully integrated in the UK. This was one of the first black men to play football here, and he also served in WW1, where he was killed in action..
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jennie says:

    Outstanding post, Frank. Your last line was the best. My biggest regret in life was not going to the ballpark with my Dad to see the Cincinnati Reds. He begged every year, and we girls, his five daughters, didn’t care. How terrible! I ‘found’ baseball as an adult – on the radio. Oh, how I love listening to a Red Sox game on the radio. When I went to Fenway Park, I could only wish I had been at Crosley Field with my Dad to watch Pete Rose. You were lucky to live in Brooklyn and see the greats, like Jackie Robinson.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toritto says:

      Oh Jennie! Those greats used to come to Cincinnati! Brooklyn played the Red all the time back in the day. Of course, in 57 they moved to L.A. Sandy Koufax went to my high school and I saw him pitch sand lot ball in Flatbush.


      Liked by 1 person

      • Jennie says:

        Sandy Koufax from your high school and you saw him pitch. Wow! It must have been tragic for Brooklyn when the Dodgers moved to L.A. Worse than tragic. And yes, those greats went to Cincinnati. I could have seem them play against ‘Charlie Hustle’. My penance.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. toritto says:

    Sandy played basketball too. He joined the Dodgers in ’55 and was wild as hell in his first two seasons. He became the greatest in L.A – he and Drysdale who also was with the team in Brooklyn, Charlie should be in Cooperstown. Besties.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jennie says:

    I had no idea he played basketball, too. Well, great athletes often played multiple sports. And yes, Charlie should be in Cooperstown.

    Liked by 1 person

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