Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now



The Role of Baseball in the American Culture 0

Posted on August 07, 2020 by Bijoy Hembram

Playing baseball is a leisure and pass time activity for American families. Baseball plays a significant role in the development of children in the states. Most American baseball fans grew up knowing and playing baseball. This is the reason that millions of American citizens follow the sport.

A Brief History of the Sport

The history of baseball dates back to hundreds of years in the past. In the 1800s, the sport received recognition from the government and set on the path to create a formal league. The Major Baseball League came into existence in the 1900s. In the modern era, the Jackie Robinson jersey portrays the end of racial segregation in professional baseball.

Unity through Baseball

In the past, when America was undergoing a civil war baseball was a factor in unifying the people. Not only was the sport efficient in the unity of the North and South of America but it brought people together because of the athleticism and ability to play the sports. After the game broke the New York borders, the sport gained popularity as a national symbol of unity. The pastime was responsible for building a rapport between soldiers of the different sides and the conclusion of the war.

Fast-forward to modern times and the sport is a factor in unifying rivals in the global political scene. Amid the growing political divides in residents of Washington DC, the locals come together to support their team. The game presents the chance for Americans of different social and political views to put the differences aside.

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Great Baseball All-Star Game Moments: Part 1 (1933-1959) 2

Posted on July 11, 2020 by Dean Hybl
Babe Ruth hit the first home run in All-Star Game history during the first All-Star Game in 1933.

Since its inception in 1933, the Major League Baseball All-Star Game has provided fans an annual opportunity to see most of the great stars of the game on the same field. While the game is an exhibition and has withstood periods of indifference by some players, management and fans, it remains a special mid-season moment.

Because of COVID-19, there will not be an All-Star Game played in 2020, marking only the second season without a game (the first was in 1945 during World War II) since the start of the annual contest in 1933.

Though there will not be any new memories this year, there have been many memorable games and moments in the 90 meetings between the top players of the American and National Leagues.

This is the first of a three-part series where we will relive some of the great moments and games in the history of this special series.

July 6, 1933 – Comiskey Park, Chicago
The idea of bringing the top players from both the American and National Leagues together in the middle of the season for one “All-Star” game was initiated by Arch Ward, a sports editor for the Chicago Tribune. The first game was played at Comiskey Park to coincide with Chicago’s Century of Progress Exposition.

In a fitting testimonial to his legendary career, Babe Ruth hit the first home run in All-Star history when he lifted a pitch from Bill Hallahan into the right-field stands in the third inning.

The American League went on to win the game 4-2 with Lefty Gomez earning the victory.

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Vintage Video: Remembering Jackie Robinson 2

Posted on April 14, 2017 by Dean Hybl

The first Jackie Robinson Day was held on April 15, 1997.

The first Jackie Robinson Day was held on April 15, 1997.

As the years since Jackie Robinson became the first African American to play in Major League Baseball, 70 years to be exact, continue to grow, it becomes harder for the increasing number of people who do not remember a time when the color of ones skin eliminated a person from consideration for “America’s Pastime” to understand just how significant and difficult an action it was for Robinson and those who helped him break the color barrier.  That is why 20 years ago, April 15, 1997, Major League Baseball forever retired the number 42 jersey of Jackie Robinson and set up an annual day to honor his legacy across the league.

In recognition of Jackie Robinson’s first game for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947 and the first “Jackie Robinson Day” on April 15, 1997, we have below some video links to remember this American hero and the day set aside to recognize his accomplishments.
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Major League Baseball Honors Jackie Robinson Today 7

Posted on April 15, 2016 by Mike Raffone

MIKE Comic 125 Jackie RobinsonOn April 15, 1997 Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig mandated an unprecedented edict. It was never before witnessed in any American professional sport.

Selig ordered all Major League Baseball teams to officially retire the #42 jersey in honor of Brooklyn Dodgers great Jackie Robinson.

Selig’s historic move recognized Jackie Robinson on the 50th anniversary of his 1947 debut. On that day Robinson became the first black baseball player in the modern era to cross the color barrier that existed in the sport.

It’s hard for us to image today, but Jack Roosevelt “Jackie” Robinson’s bold, courageous decision to break the color line in 1947 opened the gates for other worthy, yet unfairly discriminated against, black baseball players.

Thanks to Robinson, other talented black baseball players quickly followed and begun playing on other previously all white teams in Major League Baseball.

As a player with the Brooklyn Dodgers, #42’s fortitude also kindled dialogue beyond the baseball diamond when it came to our country’s ugly segregation policies. Many attribute that Robinson’s brazen baseball move of crossing the color barrier helped propel the long overdue and ultimately successful Civil Rights Movement.

The Movie 42 Tells Robinson’s Story

Robinson’s heroic and individually spectacular personal life story was told in the motion picture 42 (release date: April 2013). It chronicled Robinson’s struggles and success as one of America’s most respected athletes ever.

When he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 as a 28 year-old rookie, #42 overcame significant public scrutiny as well as regular cruel and unnecessary racial abuse. He was the target of ugly taunts, knock-down pitches and hateful insensitivity directed at him because of his skin color.

However, the Dodgers’ tough talking manager Leo Durocher took a firm stand in defense of Robinson. Also, legendary Dodgers shortstop Pee Wee Reece’s comment in support of Jackie Robinson will never be forgotten. While standing with his arm draped around Robinson’s shoulders, Reece said, “You can hate a man for many reasons. Color is not one of them.”

The son of a Georgia sharecropper and a Southern California domestic laborer, Jackie Robinson immediately proved his mettle and demonstrated his athletic excellence. Despite the racial abuse he suffered, Robinson rose above the fray.

Instead of fighting back on the low ground, he immediately made an impact on Major League Baseball and quickly became a rising star.

Robinson was voted Major League Baseball Rookie of the Year in 1947. Soon after, he won both the National League batting title and the National League Most Valuable Player Award in 1949.

Jackie played his entire ten year career with the Brooklyn Dodgers. A first-time ballot Hall of Fame inductee, Robinson’s career accomplishments included six all-star games, a World Series Championship in 1955 and impressive lifetime stats of a .311 batting average, 1,518 hits, 137 home-runs, 734 runs batted in and 197 steals.

In addition to being selected to Major League Baseball’s All-Century team, Jackie Robinson was named #44 on The Sporting News’ list of top 100 baseball players ever.

As a result of what he accomplished after formally hanging up his baseball cleats in 1956, this remarkable athlete became a cultural icon.

Robinson is widely admired and credited for overcoming other barriers beyond the baseball diamond. He broke additional color lines that existed in mainstream America at the time.

Jackie Robinson Broke Through Other Racial Barriers

ABC Sports hired Jackie Robinson as the first ever black sportscaster ever to cover Major League Baseball. In the late 50s, Robinson crossed a business barrier and became the first ever black Vice President of a major United States corporation when appointed by Chock full ‘o Nuts Coffee.

Before his death in 1972, Robinson accumulated a never-to-be duplicated resume as a distinguished retired athlete.

Besides his Major League Baseball Hall of Fame induction, Robinson chaired the NAACP.

Plus, he received our country’s two single greatest non-sports related individual honors; i.e. the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Medal of Honor.

TIME Magazine named Jackie Robinson among the top 100 most influential people of the 20th Century.

TIME Magazine’s ranking not only honored a most worthy athlete, but also a courageous American who helped transition our country away from its ugly discriminatory past.

MIKE on sports!

Jackie Robinson Displayed Greatness On and Off the Field 67

Posted on April 15, 2012 by Dean Hybl

Jackie Robinson made his Major League Baseball debut on April 15, 1947.

Jackie Robinson made his Major League Baseball debut on April 15, 1947.

Editor’s Note: In honor of today being the 65th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier I am reprinting an article I originally published in recognition of the anniversary a year ago.

I am learning that one difficult challenge of being a parent is explaining to our children pieces from past history that are inconsistent with how we want them to think and experience daily life.

Recently my five-year-old son and I were watching a section from the wonderful Ken Burns Baseball documentary. The section first focused about baseball during World War II and then about Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in 1947.

Because he is growing up in a time and culture where racism isn’t a noticeable part of daily life and he has been fortunate in his short life to meet and regularly interact with many people from all backgrounds and races, it was very difficult for him to grasp that there was a time in our country when discrimination was part of the norm in certain places and where not everyone was given the same opportunities.

While trying to give him enough information to explain why Jackie Robinson was a special person and should be celebrated, I found myself focusing on how great Robinson was as a player, rather than simply focusing on his crucial role in breaking racial barriers. Not that I was trying to shield him from the ugly elements of America’s past, but rather because it was easier for him to understand and because what I want him to know as he moves forward with his own life is that people are judged and celebrated for their achievements, performance and success and that skin color isn’t an important part of that equation.

When you think about it, that is probably one of the greatest components of Jackie Robinson’s legacy. He paved the way for us to be able to judge greatness not based on ethnicity or race, but instead on how someone performs in whatever area in which they participate.

There are certainly still racial issues within our country, but while it is important for my son and all children to know and understand our history, things will continue to change as more generations of youngsters live through times where, to quote Martin Luther King Jr., “they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character”

It was 64 years ago today that Robinson played his first game as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers. The future Hall of Famer didn’t get a hit that afternoon, but his mere presence forever changed professional baseball and American society.

During his rookie season, Robinson hit .297 and was named the National League Rookie of the Year.

Despite being 28 years old at the time of his major league debut, Robinson played 10 seasons for the Dodgers and helped them reach the World Series six times and claim the World Series title in 1955. He had a career batting average of .311 and was named the NL MVP in 1949.

In honor of Jackie Robinson Day across Major League Baseball, we are including several Youtube videos that celebrate his greatness both as a baseball player and as the man who paved the way for baseball to truly become the American pastime.

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Jackie Robinson Paved the Way 3

Posted on April 15, 2010 by Dean Hybl

Jackie Robinson made his Major League Baseball debut on April 15, 1947.

Jackie Robinson made his Major League Baseball debut on April 15, 1947.

It was 63 years ago today that Jackie Robinson played his first game as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers. The future Hall of Famer didn’t get a hit that afternoon, but his mere presence forever changed professional baseball and American society.

During his rookie season, Robinson hit .297 and was named the National League Rookie of the Year.

Despite being 28 years old at the time of his major league debut, Robinson played 10 seasons for the Dodgers and helped them reach the World Series six times and claim the World Series title in 1955. He had a career batting average of .311 and was named the NL MVP in 1949.

In honor of Jackie Robinson Day across Major League Baseball, we are including several Youtube videos that celebrate his greatness both as a baseball player and as the man who paved the way for baseball to truly become the American pastime.

Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Stan Jones – Weight Training Trailblazer
      October 11, 2020 | 1:48 pm
      Stan Jones

      The Sports Then and Now Athlete of the Month was one of the great linemen of his era and is considered a trailblazer for using weight training and conditioning to develop his skills.

      After a standout career at the University of Maryland, Stan Jones spent nine seasons as an offensive lineman for the Chicago Bears, making seven Pro Bowl appearances and earning first team All-Pro three times.

      In 1962, assistant coach George Allen suggested Jones move to defense to help solidify that unit for the Bears. He played both ways in 1962 and then in 1963 moved permanently to the defense.

      Read more »

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