2007 -- S 0933

Enacted 04/12/07


S E N A T E  R E S O L U T I O N




     Introduced By: Senators Metts, and Pichardo

     Date Introduced: April 12, 2007


     WHEREAS, Baseball has been called "America's national pastime", but its hard to accept

that statement being true prior to 1947 when approximately twelve percent of the American

people were excluded from playing Major League Baseball; and

     WHEREAS, African-Americans, prior to 1947, were banned from Major League

Baseball. As a result, great players like Josh Gibson, Oscar Charleston, Buck Leonard and John

Henry "Pop" Lloyd were only able to play baseball in the Negro Leagues, and the great pitcher

Satchel Paige was over forty years old before he was allowed to play Major League Baseball.

Everything was about to change within Major League Baseball and the world at large, when the

great Jackie Robinson arrived on the scene; and

     WHEREAS, Jackie Robinson was born in 1919 in Georgia, the youngest of five children.

As a young boy his mother moved to California, and like most American young men in that era,

Jackie had a love and passion for sports and saw sports as a way to escape poverty. In high school

he incredibly played and starred in five sports, baseball, football, basketball, tennis and track &

field. Jackie went on to star in baseball and football at UCLA; and

     WHEREAS, Jackie Robinson served his nation in World War II in the United States

Army as a Second Lieutenant from 1942-1944. While America and its armed forces were

standing up for liberty and freedom abroad, racism and Jim Crow were the norm in the United

States Military and in American society at home. Jackie Robinson exhibited the kind of courage

he was to become famous for later when he refused an order to sit in the back of a segregated bus.

He was acquitted by a military jury and received an honorable discharge; and

     WHEREAS, Jackie Robinson was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1946 to a

professional baseball contract, and after playing one year in the minor leagues, he became a

member of the Brooklyn Dodgers Baseball Team. On April 15, 1947 Major League Baseball,

professional sports and America were changed forever for the good when Jackie Robinson

became the first African-American to play in a Major League Baseball Game; and

     WHEREAS, Few athletes have had to tolerate the kinds of abuse and discrimination

Jackie Robinson faced in 1947. On a daily basis, he was called the most despicable names and

had the most awful racial epithets thrown at him by opposing players, fans and even members of

the media. Jackie Robinson, while traveling on the road, was unwelcome at most restaurants and

hotels. Arguably of all, was the fact that Robinson had to bottle up his anger at these injustices

and not respond because he knew the bigots were hoping they could use some kind of incident to

get him kicked out of Major League Baseball; and

     WHEREAS, Despite battling these inhuman circumstances, Jackie Robinson went on to

have one of the greatest years any rookie ever had in Major League Baseball. He won the Rookie

of the Year Award, led the Dodgers to the National League Pennant and the World Series; and

     WHEREAS, Jackie Robinson went on to have a Hall of Fame career playing for the

beloved and famous "Boys of Summer" Brooklyn Dodger teams of the late 1940's and 1950's. He

was the best player and leader of a team loaded with great players such as Duke Snider, Roy

Campanella, Don Newcombe, and Pee Wee Reese. With Jackie's leadership, power hitting and

incredible ability to get on base, the Brooklyn Dodgers won six National League Pennants and

averaged well over 90 wins a season in Jackie's ten year Major League Baseball career; and

     WHEREAS, Jackie Robinson, in his Hall of Fame baseball career, won the MVP award

in 1949, was a six time All-Star, led the National League in Batting Average in 1949 and during a

five year period from 1949 to 1953, he finished in the top three each year in on-base percentage

and led the National League in that category in 1952. In 1955 he led the Brooklyn Dodgers to

victory in the World Series against the Dodgers nemesis and hated rivals, the New York Yankees.

The image of Jackie Robinson successfully stealing home in that series against Yogi Berra is one

of the most famous images in baseball history; and

     WHEREAS, In addition to his great accomplishments on the baseball diamond, Jackie

Robinson was also an outspoken leader in the Civil Rights Movement. He was a key figure in the

establishment of the Freedom Bank, an African-American owned and controlled entity in the

1960's. He also wrote a syndicated newspaper column for numerous years, in which he was an

outspoken supporter of Martin Luther King, Jr. In recognition of his many accomplishments to

our nation, Robinson posthumously was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal and the

Presidential Medal of Freedom; now, therefore be it

     RESOLVED, That this Senate of the State of Rhode Island commemorates Jackie

Robinson for breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball in 1947. America's debt to this

great man can never be fully re-paid, but we can honor his legacy of courage in helping to open

the doors to success and opportunity for all American's; and be it further

     RESOLVED, That the Secretary of State be and he hereby is authorized and directed to

transmit duly certified copies of this resolution to the President of the NAACP and the Director of

the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society.