Jackie Robinson: a day, a life, a future
This is a post is contributed from the baseball blog, Blue By Numbers, where the focus is concentrated on statistics in baseball. However, the contributions of Jackie Robinson will forever be known as beyond the numbers. Here is more from the post:
Jackie Robinson became a Brooklyn Dodger, but more importantly, an MLB player, on this day in 1947--72 years ago. Robinson was an MLB player for 10 years and, by the numbers, was a significantly influential player.
Jackie Robinson by the numbers:
Career: AB H HR BA R RBI SB FLD % WAR
4877 1518 137 .311 947 734 197 .983 61.4
BA OBP SLG OPS+
.311 .409 .474 .883
His 162 game average looks like this:
AB R H SB BB SO
572 111 178 23 87 34
In modern statistical rankings, Robinson took the league by storm. He was the NL Rookie of the Year in 1947, Batting Title Champion and NL MVP in 1949 with 79% of the vote. He led all players in WAR in 1949 (9.6) and 1951 (9.7), and he was second in WAR in 1950 (7.5) and 1952 (8.5).
In his 10 year career, Robinson came in the top 10 in OPS+ 8 times while having 3 seasons in the top 10 in SLG. He had 4 seasons in the top 10 in BB and 9 seasons in SB, including the National League leader in 1947 and 1949.
As if his numbers aren’t impressive enough, his hitters line against the Giants was .308/ .414/ .441/ .856.
As a competitor, author Roger Kahn said, "He could hit and bunt and steal and run. He had intimidating skills, and he burned with a dark fire."
As impressive as his numbers are, what will never be an actual statistical recording is the amount of vitriol, anxiety, and stress he persevered through as the player most known for breaking the color barrier in sports. Robinson held the nation’s attention throughout 1947, his first year with the Dodgers, and so many wished him failures because of this accomplishment. Not only did he overcome competitive hurdles but the psychological barriers of an entire people group.
It is amazing to see his success flourish in his 10 year career. Scouts often are most impressed with a base stealer when everyone in the ballpark knows the player is stealing and is still able to steal the base with ease. Jackie Robinson was not just this player, he was able to succeed despite knowing that the majority of people who watched him play were wishing his competitive demise.
May Jackie Robinson’s story make you proud as a Dodger fan and as a fan of baseball, but I hope today we can look past the numbers and realize the success of Jackie Robinson will forever transcend his own abilities and incorporate his spirit in all players and fans. Sports became the most competitive and (closest to) equal only after Robinson broke the color barrier.
Robinson is the only player in sports to have his number retired by all teams, and the only number worth noting today is 42. It is the number of every player who puts on a jersey today in honor of the greatness that is Jackie Robinson.
Here are a few more links celebrating Jackie Robinson and his accomplishments.
Finally, please take a moment to look at how Jackie Robinson’s spirit s reflected today. The Jackie Robinson Foundation aims to improve the lives of so many who embody the spirit of Jackie Robinson, and consider donating to their wonderful and important cause.