On April 15, 1947 Jackie Robinson played in his first Major League Baseball game with the Brooklyn Dodgers, helping them defeat the Boston Braves, 5-3. Though he finished 0-for-3 at the plate, he scored one run and recorded a sacrifice hit in the team's win.
Just another ball game right? Wrong. Robinson took his first step towards changing the landscape of the United States by playing in the game, becoming the first African-American to play in the league and engraining himself in Civil Rights icon. That same season, Robinson aided Brooklyn to its first World Series Championship since 1920.
Fast forward to today, and the No. 42 is retired by every franchise in MLB, with only one player still wearing the jersey (Mariano Rivera wore the number before it was retired in 1997).
As I sat in the baseball press box at Miami of Ohio on Sunday morning, I decided to take a look at Twitter and see what was happening in the world of sports. Since Sunday marked the 65th anniversary of Robinson's debut, The Sporting News tweeted out a link to their feature story on Robinson's debut in their April 23, 1947 issue and it the got the wheels in my head spinning.
I was promptly reminded by myself that NIU baseball has a first person connection with Jackie Robinson, through his foundation of course, in senior third baseman Troy White, senior from Chicago and a Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholar. At the beginning of March, received the Nike Award for his work with Cit Cubs program, working alongside Theo Epstien, President of Baseball Operations with the Chicago Cubs.
All accolades aside, White was spectacular for the Huskies on Sunday as he finished the day 7-for-11 at the plate with six RBI, a home run, a double and three runs in NIU's doubleheader. It was an amazing thing to witness at McKie Field on the Miami campus. The Redhawks press box workers simply asked "What's he going to do next?" It was that impressive.
I guess it was meant to be though. Friday, Phil Hersh ran an article in The Chicago Tribune about White's journey to NIU and his off the diamond works and happenings. When I returned to DeKalb, there was a stack of newspapers and a magazine article with a picture of Rachel Robinson, Jackie's widowed wife, and a yellow Post-it note with the words "Troy White reference" and an arrow point out to where in the article.
I read the paragraph and smiled, closed the magazine with my finger saving the page and I saw a picture of Bubba Watson underneath the iconic words "Sports Illustrated" splashed on the front. White was referenced in the article as a success story of the Jackie Robinson Foundation. Check it out and see for yourself.
Needless to say it was a pretty good weekend for NIU baseball. Not only did the program sweep Miami (Ohio) for the first time since the teams first met in 1968, there was also some good press, and that's a good.
My final contribution to the article, a shameless plug for the Northern Illinois Baseball Twitter feed...
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