When I was a teenager, Jackie was such a big hero that you never needed to say his last name. It even went beyond that. When the Dodgers played a game, people in my neighborhood would simply ask, "How did he do?" They wanted to know if Robinson had any hits, stole any bases, and if the Dodgers won. Every radio in my neighborhood would be carrying play-by-play of the Dodgers games. Robinson was a precious part of our lives.
We all knew that he was all alone in an alien baseball world. Almost all of the Players and Fans did not want him to have the opportunity to play baseball for a living. Therefore, most of the Players tried to sabotage his career by antagonizing ,or injuring him, if they could. Many of the fans simply wanted to kill him.
Whenever he played in a game, even in Ebbets Field, they had Screeners at the entrances, to confiscate pistols and rifles. Jackie and his wife, Rachel had to have security escorts to get them in and out of the baseball parks.
The intent was to frighten Jackie, or to simply discourage him from attempting to become a major-league ballplayer. If I had been him, I certainly would have quit, as most people would have done. We all knew that it took an extremely rare individual to do what he was doing. So, we cheered him on from the safety of our homes.
Not only did he continue to show up, he had the talent to become a major star. Race aside; he was the most exciting baseball player of his time. He was a great hitter, a great fielder, and a great base stealer. He was one of the few baseball players in history, who had both the audacity and the speed to dash from third base to home plate, while the opposing pitcher was winding up. This was called, "stealing home." He even did it successfully in a World Series game, against the mighty New York Yankees. Unbelievable!
Jackie died at age 52. He was a diabetic, and that was listed as the cause. However, the fact that he had to live his life under the threat of being killed at any moment was probably a contributing factor. Every morning when he woke up, he knew that some people were looking for a way to kill him. The stress that this would generate would certainly aggravate any other health issues.
The number on his uniform was "42." It is being used in the movie about him. Chadwick Boseman will portray Robinson in the film, and Harrison Ford stars as Branch Rickey.
Henceforth, Major League Baseball will celebrate Jackie Robinson Day, on every April 15. The Dodgers will do it this year in a game against the San Diego Padres. There will be some ugliness in this film, but those times were uglier than they are today. If Jackie were still here; he would be aware of the changes that have been made since 1947. I do not think that he would be pleased. While he would want all of us to do more than we are doing, I do think that he would appreciate the fact that Magic Johnson is now one of the Owners of the team that gave him his opportunity.