Schuster: Jackie Robinson’s 1949 slump

From Joe Schuster at The National Pastime Museum on May 14, 2018:

Jackie Robinson came into 1949 determined to improve on a disappointing 1948 season. He had barely missed hitting .300 that year when he went 2 for 14 over the final four games. After winning the pennant in his rookie season, the Dodgers had finished third in ’48, seven and a half games behind first-place Boston, although they were tied for first at the start of September. “Deep in my heart,” Robinson said, “I was miserable because I knew that I should have done better—much better. I made myself a solemn vow to redeem myself and the Dodgers in 1949.”

Robinson’s dedication showed in spring training. Although he reported roughly 12 pounds overweight, at 207, he was in better shape than he had been when he arrived at camp in 1948—perhaps 35 pounds overweight. On the field, he spent time working on his hitting with Hall of Famer George Sisler, who helped him address some of the habits the team thought prevented him from reaching his potential. Robinson told reporters, “Sisler showed me how to stop lunging, how to check my swing until the last fraction of a second. He showed me how to shift my feet and hit to right. That alone should add 20 points to my average.”

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Originally published: May 14, 2018. Last Updated: May 14, 2018.