Jackie Robinson is one of the most revered people to ever walk the earth. The MLB retired his number as a league.
He was outstanding in four sports as an amateur. In his 10 seasons with the Brooklyn Dodgers Robinson had an OPS over .900 in six and won National League MVP in 1949. Robinson also took his role as a pioneer for civil rights very seriously.
For all that Robinson accomplished, some of his peers did not think he should have been the player chosen from the Negro Leagues to reintegrate MLB. One of those players was the man who did that in the American League, Larry Doby.
“One of the things that was disappointing and disheartening to a lot of the Black players at that time was that Jack was not the best player. The best was Josh Gibson. I think that’s one of the reasons Josh died so early — he was heartbroken,” Doby said in his biography.
In 1943, Gibson went into a coma and was found to have a brain tumor. He died of a stroke on Jan. 20, 1947, three months before Robinson took the field for the Dodgers.
The tales told of Gibson’s power-hitting are the stuff of legends. According to The Sporting News, Gibson once hit a 580-foot home run at Yankee Stadium. Eat your heart out Aaron Judge.
Run a google search for Josh Gibson and you could have enough reading material to fill an entire evening. One of baseball’s greatest hitters who, like many Black players in the early 1900s, did not get to display his talents on the game’s biggest stage.
Robinson didn’t play for a long time in the Negro Leagues. His career with the Kansas City Monarchs began and ended in 1945. He was younger than a lot of the other Negro League stars but still was named an all-star that season.
There is no denying that Robinson was one of the greatest baseball players this country has ever produced. He belonged in the MLB and in the National Baseball Hall of Fame whether he was first from the Negro Leagues or 10th. Robinson was a pillar of talent and dignity first, but he was also not the best Black baseball player in 1945.
– Stephen Knox
Original source here
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