To those of you familiar with The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, 42 represents “the answer to life, the universe and everything.” But to those wrapped up in the baseball world, it means something completely different.
By now, you all know that today, April 15, is known as Jackie Robinson Day… number 42’s day. What could one man have done to deserve this special day? Some say it’s ridiculous, some say it’s overrated.
Or is it?
Jack Roosevelt Robinson, born in Georgia in 1919, and his four siblings led a difficult life, raised by their single mother in a town where segregation levels were incredibly high but like all poetic down-and-out, inspirational stories, young Jackie survived. Jackie attended UCLA and won varsity letters in four sports (including baseball) and was the first to do so, but was never able to finish college and enlisted in the Army instead. By 1947, Jackie was asked to consider playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers. He accepted, being the first African-American baseball player in 58 years to don a Major League baseball uniform, broke the segregation barrier, and was awarded the National League’s Most Valuable Player award for the year. His first year stats? 12 home runs, 29 steals, and a .297 average. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame later in 1962.
Years later, we remember the anniversary of the day that Jackie first played in the majors: April 15; a day where every player in both leagues sport the special number “42” to commemorate a man who meant so much to the game of baseball. Jackie carried the weight of a changing nation upon his shoulders and I can’t think of another man I would have trusted to do so. Here’s to you, Jackie!
“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”
– Jackie Robinson
Thank you, Jackie, for impacting all of ours… may we always remember.