Welcome again to my new collection for Dodgers Nation, the Dodgers NL MVP Annals! In every installment, I take an in-depth take a look at each single MVP season by a Dodger and the participant who gained it. The Dodgers franchise can at present lay declare to 13 Nationwide League MVP winners, gained by 11 totally different gamers. These span from 1913 to 2014, beginning within the lean nascent days in Brooklyn to the Guggenheim Period in Los Angeles at present.
Some gamers make their mark on baseball historical past as a trend-setter, the primary of their type. Different gamers had a signature second, maybe a number of ones, which might be ceaselessly etched within the collective reminiscence of the game’s followers. A number of esteemed people amass lasting legacies outdoors the realm of the baseball diamond.
Then there are these few who did all of it. Jack Roosevelt Robinson, who broke the MLB colour barrier 72 years in the past at present and whose 100th birthday was commemorated on January 31, stands as a type of sacred few. Extra precisely, he’s not a part of a pantheon of greatness; he IS his personal pantheon.
Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese statue outdoors MCU Park. #JackieRobinsonDay pic.twitter.com/meOfyiGtox
— Matteo Zavattoni (@MatteoZeiv) April 15, 2019
From the outset of this text, I’ve to acknowledge that there’s no method I can do Jackie’s full legacy justice in only one piece. He has been the topic of innumerable books, films (together with one the place he performed himself), theater productions, and even an entire Ken Burns documentary. His whole story is certainly one of higher complexity than most assume.
As such, it’s a narrative that has been informed again and again, a lot that I knew it even earlier than I turned a real baseball fanatic. However it bears repeating nonetheless: Born January 31, 1919 in Cairo, Georgia, Jackie Robinson was the youngest of 5 youngsters in a sharecropper household. His father left the household shortly thereafter, prompting them to maneuver to Pasadena, California in 1920.
Impressed by his older brothers Frank and Mack (the latter a silver medalist on the 1936 Summer time Olympics), Jackie determined to dedicate himself to athletics. He excelled in soccer, tennis, basketball, monitor, and baseball in highschool. He continued to pursue them at Pasadena Junior School (later Pasadena Metropolis School) and UCLA, profitable the 1940 NCAA championship within the lengthy bounce.
After serving in World Struggle II from 1942-1944, baseball got here calling for Robinson when the Kansas Metropolis Monarchs of the Negro Leagues despatched him a suggestion to play in early 1945. Nevertheless, the hectic scheduling and prevalence of playing within the league soured his outlook, and he shortly sought to maneuver on to Main League Baseball. In fact, the key leagues of professional baseball had formally banned black gamers because the 1880s, making the probability of touchdown a deal extremely unlikely.
After a sham tryout with the Boston Purple Sox (finally the final MLB group to combine in 1959), Robinson acquired a extra critical consideration from Brooklyn Dodgers GM Department Rickey. The beetle-browed government had compiled an inventory of gifted black gamers he felt might stand up to the inevitable racist abuse. Robinson agreed to a $600-a-month contract, setting the stage for historical past. The transfer wasn’t with out controversy, nevertheless, as some (admittedly higher) Negro Leagues legends like Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson felt they deserved the chance as an alternative. Nonetheless, Robinson excelled within the minors with the AAA Montreal Royals in 1946, profitable Worldwide League MVP.
Then got here the second that modified all the things. For the Dodgers, for Main League Baseball, and most of all, for race in america. On April 15, 1947, he took to first base at Ebbets Subject towards the Boston Braves. Main League Baseball was lastly desegregated, main a wave of unimaginable black gamers shortly thereafter, with Larry Doby integrating the American League the next yr. The Dodgers gained on the 15th, step one in the direction of a Nationwide League pennant. Robinson gained MLB’s first ever Rookie of the Yr Award, in the course of the temporary time it coated each leagues.
By each attainable measure, April 15, 1947 is transcendent sufficient to obviously stand as Robinson’s best second. His biggest efficiency in a season, although, got here two years later in 1949. In that yr, he notched an eye-popping .342 common on 203 hits, thus taking the NL batting crown. He racked up 124 RBIs, the one time he reached triple digits in that class in a season. His alacrity on the basepaths went to new heights, stealing an MLB-best 37 bases.
The RBI, SB, hit, and batting common totals would finally stand as single-season profession highs. Unsurprisingly, he earned his first All-Star choice, becoming a member of fellow Dodgers Don Newcombe and Roy Campanella in addition to Cleveland’s Larry Doby as the primary black MLB All-Stars. Two years after being the primary black participant in Main League Baseball, Robinson thus turned the primary to win a league MVP award.
Whereas Robinson put up stellar numbers in 1947 and 1948, the previous serving to to safe a pennant whereas dealing with an onslaught of bigotry, 1949 was really his coming of age as a participant. It was a person efficiency so spectacular, it earned an enthusiastic musical tribute from Woodrow Buddy Johnson and Rely Basie (full with name-checking different nice black gamers of the time):
In fact, these have been the Brooklyn Dodgers of “Wait ‘Til Subsequent Yr” fame. Whereas the workforce had a lot to be pleased with with a 97-57 report and their fifth NL pennant in franchise historical past, they met a well-known October destiny by succumbing to the New York Yankees within the World Collection. In 5 video games, Robinson was completely held in examine by Yankees pitching, mustering simply .188 and two RBIs on the plate.
Whereas 1949 stands as Jackie’s peak yr, the remainder of his profession wasn’t lackluster by comparability, to say the least. He continued to be named an All-Star yearly via 1954. That streak of six straight All-Star appearances led to 1955, when his numbers declined. However that decline was overshadowed by Brooklyn’s long-sought first World Collection title, lastly beating the Yankees within the course of. Robinson helped by scoring 5 runs, probably the most well-known approaching a controversial steal of house in recreation one.
Sadly, it will quickly be the top of an period for each Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers. Following a loss to the Yankees within the 1956 World Collection, the staff elected to maneuver west to Los Angeles in Might 1957. Robinson, his physicality sporting down as a result of diabetes, was traded to the rival New York Giants. Just like the earlier MVP Annals topic, Dolph Camilli, Robinson selected to not play for Brooklyn’s rivals. Granted, unbeknownst to the workforce, he had agreed with the espresso firm Chock full o’Nuts to retire from baseball grow to be an government, thus negating any commerce.
Following his retirement, Robinson’s stature solely continued to develop in tandem with seismic political and cultural shifts for African-People. His success on the sector, coupled with the integrity with which he attained it, helped set the Civil Rights Motion in movement. He turned the primary black vice chairman of an organization when he assumed the place for Chock full o’Nuts in 1957. He turned the primary black analyst on a televised baseball broadcast in 1965 for ABC Sports activities.
Robinson continued to obtain honors within the baseball world, beginning with election to the Baseball Corridor of Fame in 1962, his first yr of eligibility. The Dodgers retired his quantity 42 in June 1972 alongside these of Roy Campanella and Sandy Koufax. But he didn’t relaxation on the laurels of the trail he blazed, remaining outspoken concerning the lack of black managers and entrance workplace personnel in baseball. He handed away on October 24, 1972, on account of problems from diabetes, simply 9 days after throwing out a ceremonial first pitch on the World Collection in Cincinnati.
Whereas in the present day is an emotional sufficient day with Yasiel Puig and others returning to Dodger Stadium for the primary time, no present happenings on the sector ought to distract from the vitality of Jackie Robinson’s legacy. It’s one whose observance and learning shouldn’t be restricted to a single day. Together with his quantity retired throughout MLB in 1997, it’s a justly omnipresent one each time any staff takes the sector.
Moreover, take a second to understand #42’s position in lifting the Dodgers to their first run of near-annual postseason play. 70 years later, his 1949 MVP season particularly stays a statistically muscular one even by in the present day’s requirements.
Earlier NL MVP Annals
- Jake Daubert (1913)
- Dazzy Vance (1924)
- Dolph Camilli (1941)
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