This next week or so on Three Up, Three Down, we’re each grabbing a wrench and tweaking our respective team’s time machine. Inspired by Jim Caple’s recent ESPN column, we are allowing ourselves to go back in time to any game in our team’s history that we wish we could view in person.
Bryan Mapes got us started yesterday with his awesome top 5 list of Braves games he wishes he could go back and attend. Now it’s my turn.
Hanleywood Hollywood, anything is possible. So I’m jumping in and taking you with me to April 15, 1947 at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, NY:
You guessed it – Jackie Robinson’s historic Major League debut. In my humble opinion, this was the most important moment in American sports history.
In a time when racial segregation was the norm, Brooklyn Dodgers’ GM Branch Rickey took a chance. He recognized that talent trumped “the norm” and found a way to make his baseball team better. That meant signing Jackie Robinson to a contract, making the speedy infielder the first African-American man to ever play Major League Baseball.
Baseball is America’s pastime, and was especially so in the first half of the 20th century. That being said, it was a white man’s game in a white man’s world. But on April 15, 1947, Robinson busted right through that color barrier on his way to changing sports, and the country, forever.
Though Robinson didn’t record a hit in his first career game, he put his legs to work. After reaching on an error in the 7th inning, Robinson scored what turned out to be the winning run for the Dodgers.
It was this kind of fearless style Jackie had both on and off the field that eventually turned the tides of two battles. The teammates, opponents and fans who believed black players shouldn’t be in the Major Leagues learned to respect the future Hall of Famer’s talents on the field and his spirit off of it.
And, though many likely wouldn’t point to Jackie’s debut as THE turning point in the Civil Rights Movement, it certainly played a role. Because of him, African-Americans everywhere were inspired to fight back. To take back the rights that were bestowed upon them by virtue of being human.
Jackie’s bravery still resonates today, as his number 42 is retired in all 30 ball parks around Major League Baseball, and has become arguably the most revered and sacred jersey number in sports history.
If not for Robinson, it’s possible that Matt Kemp might not have pursued a baseball career. Maybe he wouldn’t even be allowed to play. C.C. Sabathia might never have won a Cy Young. Giancarlo Stanton might not be crushing mammoth home runs for your viewing pleasure.
Sure, I could have picked any number of games in which epic moments appeared on field: any of the half-dozen Dodger World Series titles, or Kirk Gibson’s Game 1 walk-off in the 1988 World Series, or Sandy Koufax’s perfect game, or Steve Finley’s walk-off, division-winning grand slam in 2004.
But if I really had the chance to go back in time, there is no other athlete I would want to witness on the diamond than Jackie Robinson. And no other game I’d rather see him play in than April 15, 1947; one of the most historic dates in not only baseball, but United States history.
Do you agree? Would you go back and watch that game with me, or do you have a different Dodger game in mind? Tell us below in the comments!
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)