By Aaron Zaretsky
On April 15, 1947 Jackie Roosevelt Robinson made history. When he stepped onto Ebbets Field, home of the Brooklyn Dodgers (now the L.A. Dodgers), Robinson broke Major League Baseball’s (MLB) colour barrier. Jackie Robinson’s path to the big leagues has been documented through books, films, and even comic books.
Jackie Robinson comics are a biopic of his journey to MLB, in comic book form. The series has six comic books, published from 1949-1952.
Below is a summary of his path to MLB and analysis of the comic themes.
Jackie Robinson’s journey to Major League Baseball began as a youngster. He wanted to play baseball but his mom and brother, Mack Robinson, did not approve of him playing. His mom wanted him to be a doctor or lawyer.
Listening to them, Jackie was successful in basketball, track and field, and American football; while playing softball in his spare time. What is interesting is that Jackie never pursued a career in baseball. A representative from Negro league baseball team, Kansas City Monarchs, watched him play and offered him a contract. A scout from MLB team, Brooklyn Dodgers, saw Jackie play for Kansas City and told him that Dodgers President, Branch Rickey, wants him to play for their minor league team, the Montréal Royals. Upon success with the Royals, it was known that that could result in playing for the Dodgers. Jackie Robinson dominated with the Royals, but humbly believed that he would not get called up to the big leagues. But he did the following year and never looked back. When played for the Dodgers, Jackie broke MLB’s colour barrier in the process, inspiring millions and opening the door for more players of colour to play at the major league level.
A narrative Jackie Robinson had to regularly endure while playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers was racism. There was overt racism with White supremacists sending him a threatening letter.There was also covert racism, as when Jackie took his fielding position opposing players spiked him with their cleats, while sliding into the base Jackie was covering. When he was at-bat, Jackie would be hit by the baseball more than any other player. He endured many other racist encounters, but these are some of the few these comics illustrate examples of. Jackie never complained, as he let his skills to the talking which leads into the theme of bravery.
Facing racism on a daily basis would be an understandable reason for someone to stop doing what they love, but not for Jackie Robinson. No form of racism could stop him from participating in America’s national pastime. Even an injured heel would not stop him from wreaking havoc on the baseball diamond. After playing his first MLB game, if Jackie Robinson retired he would simply be an inspiration for breaking MLB’s colour barrier. However, he surpassed that level of inspiration with his bravery to not retire, continue playing and dominating with all odds against him being truly remarkable.
Jackie Robinson’s bravery makes him a hero to every other Person Of Colour who has played, and currently plays, Major League Baseball. He was also a hero off the field, as issues two through five illustrate him guiding troubled youth to be better people.
What’s great about Jackie Robinson comics is that you do not have to read a lengthy book to digest information about Jackie Robinson’s path to MLB, seasons with the Brooklyn Dodgers, and the themes of racism, bravery, and heroism. And you get to see it all unfold in the dazzling artwork by Fawcett Publications. Be sure to access every Jackie Robinson comic book for FREE online at Comic Book Plus!