Here are some facts about Jackie Robinson’s baseball career.
- Became the first black man to play for a Major league baseball team on 4/15/1947 with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
- Rookie of the Year in 1947.
- MVP in 1949 (Became the second 2nd Baseman in history to win the National League MVP).
- Led the league in stolen bases in ’47 and ’49.
- World Series Champion in 1955.
- Career batting average of .311.
- Retired after the 1956 season. Six time All-Star.
- Entered the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962. First ballot Hall of Famer, received 78% of the votes.
- Major League Baseball (MLB) retired his number, 42, in 1997. Each year, on April 15th, the MLB celebrates Jackie Robinson Day by having every single player wear the #42.
The difficult time that Robinson faced is widely known. Many books and articles have been written on the subject and even the 2013 Hollywood film “42”. From what I understand the film proves to be a very accurate account of what happened. I urge you to watch the film or read books if you want more information on the history of Jackie Robinson.
This post will focus on what we can teach our children from the stories of Jackie Robinson.
How can the Life of Jackie Robinson help Teach Our Children?
There are many things that we can teach or children about the life and times of Jackie Robinson. Here are just a few thoughts.
Learn from the Mistakes and Cruelty of Others.
A lot of people were very ignorant back in the 40’s and 50’s. It’s difficult to blame them though. They were raised under those conditions. You need to remember that the Emancipation Proclamation was issued by President Lincoln on 1/1/1863, just 56 years before Robinson was born. Fifty-six years isn’t that long. The influence of past generations is very strong within us.
There is a scene in the movie where a child is with his father at a baseball game. The child appears innocent and ready to enjoy the game. When Robinson takes the field everyone around him, including his father, start screaming racial slurs among many other insults. Sure enough, before long, the boy joins in. Racism and hate passes down from one generation to another.
Our children are sponges. What are you passing on to them? See the good in people. If you can’t, if you lack the ability to do so then please keep your comments to yourself. Our world doesn’t need more hate. Our world needs more love, respect and understanding.
Learn from the Will and Desire of Jackie Robinson.
Imagine being Jackie Robinson in 1946, when he was offered a contract to be on a professional minor league baseball team. I suspect I would have been scared to death of the possibility of success as well as frightened out of my mind knowing how those opposed to the movement would treat me and my family. But I do know one thing, the incredible desire to live a dream trumps everything.
Robinson probably never dreamed of playing in the MLB. But once the door was open there was no looking back. His desire to show that he belonged proved to be the catalyst for a Hall of Fame career. As well as a career that earned the #42 to be retired from the entire league.
What can we do with desire like that? What if we approached life with that type of will? Our kids can do anything they want. Make them understand that. Tell them that they can do anything they dream of. Tell them to reach for the stars, the higher the better! And when they fall back to Earth tell them to reach for them again. Every ounce of success we earn starts with desire.
Recognize When and Where Change is Needed.
During Robinson’s rookie year his teammates saw how he was being treated. One by one they started to support him. In private and in public. In the end most of teammates supported him. Those that didn’t were traded away from the team.
A few years ago I was given advice on how to coach a youth soccer team, “Don’t yell ‘shoot’ from the sideline. Allow them to make their own decisions.” The idea is to get them to make decisions on their own and then coach them in private later.
I believe the same is true in life. We can’t stand over our kids all day, every day. We can’t sit with them at lunch or on the playground at recess. We must use the private time that we have with them to coach them on how to make the right decisions. Instill inside of them a set of beliefs that will help them grow as well as help them make our community better. We need to teach them HOW to think, not WHAT to think.
Later in life when they are faced with difficult situations, like the members of ’47 Dodgers, they will have the ability to make better and more effective decisions.
What lessons can you teach your children from the life and times of Jackie Robinson?