It was 1948, during Jackie Robinson’s second season in Major League Baseball, when some bigots in Cincinnati were really giving him the business.
Just the previous year, Robinson had been the one with the monumental courage to break the color barrier as the first African American of the modern era to play in baseball’s highest league. He had endured unthinkable cruelty and injustice for de-segregating the game, and he was succeeding on the field and off. Not only did he bat just a shade under .300 in 1947, and was named Rookie of the Year, but he was holding his tongue, and fists, and not fighting back.
But now, in his second campaign, some still weren’t convinced. Eric Metaxas tells the story of the “signature moment” that happened in 1948.
At one game in Cincinnati, when spectators in the stands were shouting racist comments at Robinson, his teammate Pee Wee Reese pointedly walked over to him and put his arm around him, as though to say to the bigots in the crowd “if you are against him, you’re against all of us.” It was a signature moment, and a statue commemorating it stands today in Brooklyn’s minor-league KeySpan Park. (Seven Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness, 128–129)
No Small Feat
The story of Jackie Robinson (1919–1972) — and with him Brooklyn Dodgers president Branch Rickey (1881–1965) — is one of the most powerful tales American athletics has to tell. Robinson overcame what seemed like insurmountable obstacles not only by playing outstanding baseball, but even more significantly, by not retaliating when treated with rank injustice and racism.
[Read the rest of the article at Desiring God.]