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Although many of America’s finest players had enlisted in the military for World War II. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt felt it would be beneficial for the country’s morale for professional baseball to continue uninterrupted. During this time, the game remained completely segregated, but knowledgeable people considered the overall quality of play to be superior in the, then called, “Negro Leagues” than the Major League. Negro League baseball averaged more than 50, 000 fans per game, and it wasn’t just black fans in the stands.
As the War came to a conclusion, economic considerations, political pressure and the excellent quality of Negro League baseball led Branch Rickey, then President and General Manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, to conclude the time was right for the integration of baseball. Rickey wanted the best black ballplayer in the country to begin the process. Failure of this “experiment,” he thought, could have long lasting, catastrophic consequences for baseball and society. He sent a scout to watch the Kansas City Monarchs, where there was a very special player indeed – Jackie Robinson.
Rickey signed Robinson to a minor league contract in 1945 and then brought him up to the Dodgers in 1947. As might have been anticipated, things did not go smoothly. Many bigoted fans and players hurled endless insults and racial epithets, yet Robinson consistently “turned the other cheek” and concentrated on his work. They called him “every name in the book” and even threw black cats onto the playing field. Outside of the ballpark, Robinson and his family were threatened and intimidated. Tough inside, Jackie Robinson never gave an inch.
Indeed, despite all of these extraordinary external pressures, Robinson responded with consistently stellar professional performances. An excellent fielder and hitter, he batted .297 in 1947 and was voted Rookie of the Year at age 28 as he led the Dodgers to the National League pennant. In 1949, he was voted the MVP for the National League. His career batting average was .311.
Perhaps Robinson’s greatest contribution to the game itself came through his superior speed and quickness. The best base stealer since Ty Cobb, he gave pitchers a lot to think about when he was on base. Fans once again had to watch the base runner, not just the pitcher and hitter. This being the case, the whole game became much more active and enjoyable.
Some might consider Jackie Robinson’s success a “two edged sword.” His fine accomplishments clearly opened the door and facilitated the entry for many other excellent quality African-American ball players into the Majors. However, it also spelled the demise of the Negro League – a great institution in and of itself which showed that when things were “separate and unequal,” the minority product could be better. Most importantly, Jackie Robinson proved that a black man could succeed in a brutally hostile environment. He transcended race and became a champion.
Large - 30" x 36"
50 Artist Proof Limited Edition Available - $262
500 Limited Edition Available - $210
Medium - 21" x 27"
50 Artist Proof Limited Edition Available - $185
500 Limited Edition Available - $149
Small - 14" x 18"
50 Artist Proof Limited Edition Available - $149
500 Limited Edition Available - $119
Large - 30" x 36" (Expanded 36" x 42")
15 Artist Proof Limited Edition Available - $499
150 Limited Edition Available - $399
Medium - 21" x 27" (Expanded 27" x 33")
25 Artist Proof Limited Edition Available - $387
250 Limited Edition Available - $310
Small - 14" x 18" (Expanded 20" x 24")
25 Artist Proof Limited Edition Available - $249
250 Limited Edition Available - $199