An event that greatly impacted the 1940s was Jackie Robinson signing with the Dodgers to become the first African American in Major League Baseball. Before Jackie Robinson, baseball was intensely segregated. Since the 1880s, all Major League teams followed an unofficial rule titled the “gentleman’s agreement”, where African Americans were not hired to play baseball in the MLB (Essington). Due to this rule, doors were closed to many players of color and anyone who made an attempt to change this had no success.
All this was true until the Brooklyn Dodgers’ manager planned to integrate Major League Baseball, a decision that later changed history. Manager Rickey created a team called the Brown Dodgers, an African American league which was used to cover up the fact that the Brooklyn Dodgers were about to have a new player on their team, and that new player was Jackie Robinson (Essington). After announcing that Jackie Robinson would be playing, all of the expected backlash began.
Robinson received many racial remarks, insults at games, and even death threats to him and his family. In some cases, he was not able to stay in the same hotel as his teammates because of the laws still in play. However, it did not stop there, players would purposely stick their cleats into is side when he was sliding into bases and pitchers began to aim for the batter instead of the strike zone when Robinson was up to bat (Fussman). However, slowly but surely people began to respect Robinson for his bravery, and his teammates were the first to come around.
Sometimes when threats began to become out of control, teammate Pee Wee Reese would put his arm around Robinson to show team unity (Costly). Though there were many obstacles to face, nothing could distract from the fact that Jackie Robinson was an outstanding baseball player. When Jackie Robinson took the field, the nation’s view on civil rights began to change. After the Brooklyn Dodgers signed Jackie Robinson, other Major League teams began to allow players of color on their teams. By 1959, all Major League teams had men of color on their roster (Essington). Not only did Jackie Robinson impact other teams signing men of different ethnicities, he also opened windows of opportunities for colored people. Hank Aaron longed to be a ballplayer when he was young, but because he was African American, his father told him that he was unable to fulfill his dreams.
But after Jackie Robinson made history, Hank Aaron stated, “I was allowed to dream after that.” Aaron made history of his own as an outfielder for the Milwaukee Braves (Fussman) . In conclusion, Jackie Robinson becoming the first African American in Major League Baseball greatly impacted the way others of his ethnicity viewed the wide range of opportunities they would now have.