Nationwide — Wednesday, April 16, 2015, marks the 68th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the Major League Baseball color barrier. In commemoration of him, the world celebrated “Jackie Robinson Day” and his former team, the Dodgers, announced they will erect a statue of him at their ballpark.
During his time, Robinson was a six-time All-Star player. In 1947, he was the Major League Rookie of the Year, and in 1949, he was the National League MVP. That same year, he also won the league’s batting title. But his success came with quite a bit of racial bullying, and he endured a lot.
Experts say that Jackie and his wife Rachel opened up a whole new world of opportunities that had been closed to so many African-Americans simply because they were Black, but this took a lot of courage. Their family endured a lot of threats, verbal abuse, and sometimes even physical attacks. But Jackie was always commended for maintaining his composure.
His legacy has been honored throughout the years, and his number 42 was even retired throughout the league back in 1997, with players already using the number grandfathered in. New York Yankees player Mariano Rivera was the last player to wear it in 2013.
Many agree that Robinson deserves the credit for Major League baseball’s improvements in diversity, but there is room for improvement. Currently, only 8.3 percent of all players are identified as African-American, according to Richard Lapchick’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport. That was a slight increase from 8.2 percent last year. 27 percent, however, are Hispanic!
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