Posts Tagged ‘Jackie Robinson’

The Use of Time

 “That thing that can write great symphonies, that can write great tragedies is this use of time.”
Branch Rickey
1956 speech in Atlanta

One of the things I learned in the movie 42 was how deliberate Branch Rickey was in integrating professional baseball when he signed Jackie Robinson to a contract—and how much time it took to pull off his “experiment” of ending segregation in baseball.

It made me wonder where Branch Rickey came from and the answer turns out to be a small town in Ohio.

Rickey was born in Stockdale, Ohio and raised on a farm and educated in a one room school house.  He was a devout Christian in the Methodist tradition with a sense of a calling. In a sermon once said that the Lord’s work called for him to bring the first black ballplayer into major league baseball.

Writer Jimmy Breslin, in his book Branch Rickey, gives this glimpse into the intellect of Rickey; “He never went to high school, but his first job was as a schoolteacher. Later he taught college freshman English, Latin, Shakespeare, and Greek drama, and read for the law in his free time.”

Rickey graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University and law school at the University of Michigan. He was an officer in the Army during World War 1.

He was also a good enough baseball player himself to briefly play major league baseball (and he was also paid to play football in Ohio), but it was his role on the management side in baseball where he would make his mark. He became president of the St. Louis Cardinals when he was 36-years old and joined the Brooklyn Dodgers as president and general manager when he was 62-years-old.

When in 1945 he broke the race barrier by signing Jackie Robinson as the first black professional baseball player in the modern era Rickey was 64-years old. And according to various reports it was on his mind since seeing a racial injustice happen when he was in college. Call it the 40 year plan.

“We tend to overestimate what we can do in one year, and underestimate what we can do in ten.”
Richard Foster

The take away is you can be raised on a farm in a small town in Ohio and with a little faith, education and  persistence–and forty years of patience—you can change the world.

Related posts:

Screenwriting & the Little Fat Girl from Ohio
The Lucky Slob from Ohio
Rod Serling’s Ohio Epiphany
Great Screenplay=10 Man Years
Shoot for the Moon
Toy Story 3’s Ohio Connection
Starting Small

Scott W. Smith  

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There are many layers to Jackie Robinson’s life story, but here’s a quote from him that at first doesn’t seem inspirational but I think fits this blog well:

“In those days [1941] no major football or basketball clubs hired black players. The only job offered me [after a great athletic career at UCLA] was with the Honolulu Bears, and when I reported there I got a job with a construction company headquartered near Pearl Harbor. I worked for them during the week and played football on Sundays with my first pro team, the Bears. They were not major league, but they were integrated. The football season ended in November and I wanted to get back to California. I arranged for ship passage and left Honolulu on December 5, 1941, two days before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.”
Jackie Robinson
I Never Had it Made 

Before Jackie Robinson went on to greatness, he is a fine example of somebody who did what he could, with what he had, where he was.

Related Posts: The First Black Feature Filmmaker
“One of the greatest tasks of my life has been to teach that the colored man can be anything,”
Filmmaker Oscar Micheaux (1884-1951)

Scott W. Smith 

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I saw the Google icon today was of Jackie Robinson on account of January 31 being his birthday. The Brian Helgeland (Oscar-winner for L.A. Confidential)  written and directed movie 42 (Robinson’s jersey number when he played for the Dodgers) will be released this April. But many don’t know that there was a movie of Robinson’s life made in 1950 called The Jackie Robinson Story—and starred Robinson playing himself.

Here’s the entire movie, written by Arthur Mann, Louis Pollock, and Lawrence Taylor as found on You Tube:

Scott W. Smith

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