MLB has a long history of doing poorly when it comes to embracing diversity, from problematic team names to a lack of representation in higher-level management roles, to how the Negro Leagues have been treated over time.
There are a lot of thoughts on how baseball likes to pat itself on the back, especially on the annual Jackie Robinson Day, which celebrates Jackie Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier and becoming the first Black player to take the field for an MLB club.
That said, it’s a vital and important part of baseball, and it pays tribute to an incredible man, and as always with topics like this before we dive into the rest of the links we want to spotlight stories about the day and its history.
The Undefeated has done some tremendous work specifically on Robinson for today, among others.
- William C. Rhoden shares how he thinks outspoken activist Jackie Robinson would have felt about the All-Star Game being moved.
- William Weinbaum talks about the groundbreaking moment of Jackie’s handshake with George Shuba.
- The Undefeated also brings us a video about that moment, narrated by Clinton Yates.
- Jackie Robinson wasn’t the only Black player signed by Branch Rickey. John Florio and Ouisie Shapiro bring us the history of John Wright.
- Andrea Williams looks at the complicated fallout of Robinson’s signing, and how it effectively dismantled the Negro leagues.
- Jamal Wilburg of our sister site DRaysBay talked to Denard Span about what they day means to him.
- Kavitha A. Davidson thinks it’s high time MLB gets honest about Jackie Robinson Day. (The Athletic subscription required.)
- Bianca Smith, who broke her own barriers in the coaching world this year, celebrates Jackie.
Proud to honor the man, the reason, why I get to live my dream #Jackie42 #JackieRobinsonDay #ThankYouJackie pic.twitter.com/4qkN8xAKha— Bianca Smith ⚾️ (@biancaesmith12) April 15, 2021
- Anthony Castrovince has a historical look at William Clarence Matthews, the man who almost became MLB’s first Black player back in 1905.
- An Atlanta school is renaming itself for Hank Aaron, replacing the moniker of a Confederate general, writes Michael Shapiro.
- Carlos Rodón has this season’s second no-hitter (and it’s only April!) Nick Selbe looks at how it was almost a perfect game.
- Ben Clemens likewise took time breaking down Rodón’s near-perfect bid.
- Jeff Agrest looks at how Len Kasper is transitioning into his new role with the White Sox.
- David Waldstein recalls how Bernie Madoff almost ruined the New York Mets, and how they’ve bounced back since.
- Jay Jaffe would like you to know it’s much too early to worry about Joey Votto.
- We all knew the Dodgers would be good, but Justin Choi points to Max Muncy’s excellence as an unexpected delight this season.
- There will be some new rules tested out in the minors this season and Jayson Stark looks at what they might mean for MLB’s future. (The Athletic subscription required.)
- Russell A. Carleton offers up “The Bauer Test” as a means for identifying suspicious spin rates. (Baseball Prospectus Premium required.)
- And let’s just finish off with a little classic Jackie Robinson footage.
Jackie Robinson's steal of home in the 1955 World Series was iconic. #Jackie42 pic.twitter.com/eitYBBHXff— MLB Vault (@MLBVault) April 15, 2021
And tomorrow will be a better day than today, Buster. Make it so.