It’s tax day and also Jackie Robinson day in baseball. April 15. I don’t think you could have given Jackie a worse day to commemorate him on, but that’s just me.
I obviously never got to see him–heck, he died well before I was born–but I remember hearing stories of him playing. My dad had that famous photograph of when he stole home in the World Series framed and hanging in his office and, later, in the living room.
But throughout my youth, I only knew Jack as the breaker of the color barrier. I had no idea how great he was.
And boy was he! He had a career line of .311/.409/.474. At second base. And with decent defense, if legend is correct. He had a career walk rate of 12.8% and a career K-rate of 6.0%. His career wOBA was .412–Alex Rodriguez, who has a shot at retiring as the all-time home run king, is at a solid .411 right now.
So not only did he break the color barrier, but he was one of the best players of his generation.
I wish that was told about Jackie, sometimes. I wish the legend of just how great he was was mixed properly with the reason why he was honored, like Roberto Clemente.
But at least he’s remembered. Here’s to a great baseball player and one of the greatest men of his generation.