Mar. 28th, 2017

breakinglight11: (CT photoshoot 1)
I am reading the play Fences by August Wilson in preparation to teach it in my lit class, and I never realized before how important the integration of baseball is to the backstory of it. I am fascinated by that particular part of history, perhaps weirdly so, since I don't really care about sports in any other capacity. But I've always thought the way it developed was cool, and Jackie Robinson has been a hero of mine since I did a report on him in elementary school. He was an amazing, important man, and the more you learn about him, the cooler you discover he was.

So I'm going to tell you a neat little fact about him. Jackie Robinson is considered by some to be the father of the modern style of base stealing-- of attempting to advance to the next base at a time that is technically legal for the player to run, but is usually in too much danger of being tagged out to move any farther, by taking advantage of the other team's temporary distraction to take off.

The thing about Robinson was that he did it CONSTANTLY. He would press his luck as far as it would go to make any break he possibly could. He got tagged out ALL THE TIME, but he was also quick and clever and gutsy about it so he often got away with it and made it on base. The advantage of this was not the ground gained by base-stealing, but the effect it had on the other team and on the crowd. It drove the opposing pitcher CRAZY, because they were constantly distracted from pitching by the need to keep an eye on him, to always be ready to shift gears to try to tag him out. It would really throw them off their game and give Jackie's batting teammate an edge! Plus the crowd LOVED it. They couldn't wait to see what he was going to do, how he would shake things up with a sudden break that the other team would go crazy trying to cut off. The fans ate it up and it was part of why they came to love him as a player.

Robinson did an enormous amount for the advancement of civil rights, and one part of the way he did it was by being so likeable, so fun to watch on the field. It made people develop love and sympathy for him that started to change hearts and minds. He brought so much to the sport of baseball with dignity, courage, and kindness-- and just an amazing skill that helped grow and develop his craft.

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