Parker: Jackie Robinson’s missing MVP awards

From SABR member Bill Parker at Baseball Nation on April 15, 2013:

The price of being one of the few true, real-world heroes we’ve ever had is that nobody’s very interested in remembering the things you did that, no matter how well you did them, were merely human. Our collective memory of Jackie Robinson rightly focuses on what he endured, how he carried himself, and what the things he did meant in the larger societal sense. The Jackie Robinson story is always a baseball story, of course, but the baseball tends to be no more than an exotic setting for all the other, weightier stuff.

When Jackie as a player comes up at all, the focus tends to be on his flash, his measured mayhem on the basepaths, his flair for the dramatic, the things that enhance his personal story and move the plot along. If all you knew about Jackie Robinson was what you’d learned from the movies or history books, you’d come away without much of an idea of what kind of player he was; you’d know he was fast and fun to watch, and that’s about it. That would probably be okay if he had been simply a very good baseball player, a Bobby Doerr or Red Schoendienst, the kind who checks in near the lower limits of the Hall of Fame. He could be just as celebrated for his societal contributions, with the same curt nod toward his still-considerable skills on the field, and we wouldn’t really be missing much of anything.

The thing is, though, that Jackie Robinson was a wonderful baseball player, a perfectly legitimate Hall of Famer on his on-the-field accomplishments alone and the kind that, if he’d had the opportunity to enjoy a longer big-league career, could have gone down as one of the best the game has ever seen.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: April 15, 2013. Last Updated: April 15, 2013.