Jackie Robinson: How the Color Barrier in Baseball Was Broken

Jackie Robinson is without a doubt one of the (if not the) most important figure in baseball history. The man is noted with breaking the color barrier in baseball that allowed African American ballplayers to finally take part in this league. Here I will explain the story of Robinson and how he was able to break the color barrier in baseball.

In the mid to late 1800’s, African Americans were actually allowed to play in the major leagues, but after some complaints and concerns by white players, African Americans were unofficially banned from the majors as of 1890 and would not be able to return until about half a century later when Jackie Robinson was signed. During that time they were relegated to the Negro Leagues.

(source: sportingnews.com)

(source: sportingnews.com)

Robinson, who played baseball in college and high school, received an offer in 1945 from a Negro League team called the Monarchs to play professional ball with him. He accepted their $400 a month offer and he was officially a pro baseball player. However, Robinson was used to a more structured baseball experience like he got in college and the Negro Leagues were very unstructured and the schedule was hectic. Either way, Robinson played for them, and played very well, hitting almost .400.

During this great season, Robinson pursued some potential interest from major league teams. One example was that the Red Sox had a tryout for Robinson and other black players. However, the tryout was a farce and Robinson left humiliated. As it would turn out, the Red Sox would also be the last team to add an African American player as they didn’t do so until 1959. Despite this “tryout” being a farce, some major league teams actually did have some real interest in signing a black player.

(source: biography.com)

(source: biography.com)

One team very interested was the Brooklyn Dodgers as they began to scout the Negro leagues. One requirement they had (other than the player being good) was that the player must be able to withstand the large amounts of racism that was going to come their way during the first little while. Robinson promise he could do so, and so the team decided to sign him. But before getting to play with the Dodgers in the majors, Robinson had a brief stint with their minor league team in 1946, the Montreal Royals. He was named the MVP of the league and there was no denying he was ready for the big leagues.

On April 15th 1947, Jackie Robinson made his major league debut and was the first black player, and being the first to break the color barrier in almost over half a century. While the reception was largely positive, there were some racial tensions that did exist, even in the Dodgers own clubhouse. However, the tension soon went away and more and more black players began to find their way to the majors. His impact on racial equality went far beyond just the sport of baseball and he was an influential and important figure in the civil rights movement as well.


comments