//players.brightcove.net/2157889318001/default_default/index.html?videoId=4879931290001Many times during the play Troy mentions that he is more talented than Jackie Robinso. but he was born at the wrong time. Troy insists that if he was born during the time of Jackie Robinson, he could have played professionally. Sadly, since Troy was born before integration of baseball was established, all he knew was the Negro Leagues. Troy feels a sense of alienation from this as he constantly swears to his family that if he were born later he could have been a more successful athlete than Robinson. His family does not seem to entirely believe this notion, but they continue to listen to Troy’s opinions.
Professional African American baseball players in the late 1800s were forced to play on all- black teams. There were various baseball managers and owners of Major League teams that wanted to have African Americans play for their teams. To get around segregation rules, some teams listed black players that they wanted to have on their team as Hispanic or Native American (Americas Library). Regardless of the efforts to include African American players on white Major League teams, baseball continued to be segregated into the 1940s. In 1945, Jackie Robinson joined the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro American League. Baseball policies that separated black and white athletes changed after Jackie Robinson signed a contract to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers. That said, Jackie did not have an easy time playing in the white league, and he was often threatened, cleated, and harassed by both players and fans. Branch Rickey, the Brooklyn Dodgers General Manager, called it baseball’s “great experiment” as he was aware that the African American who would be chosen to play on a major league team with white people would have to be a strong individual who is able to avoid confrontation even when insulted with vicious comments from teammates and fans. Then, on October 23, 1945 Jackie Robinson officially signed his contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers. There were various reactions to Robinson’s addition to the Dodgers ranging from enthusiasm to hostile death threats by baseball fans and players. Through all of this, Jackie had incredible baseball ability that led him to win the Rookie of the Year award in 1947. He had a .342 batting average and 37 stolen bases leading to Robinson winning the National League’s Most Valuable Player in 1949. Later on in his career, in 1962, Robinson was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame (Americas library). African American sportswriters, who had preached integration in baseball for many years, focused on Robinson and other African American athletes. Robinson’s success on the Brooklyn Dodgers inspired the integration of other professional sports such as football, basketball, and tennis. The Negro Leagues experienced a great decline in participation after they began to lose players, spectators, and reporters as players started to play for integrated Major League teams (history). Jackie Robinson was not only a successful baseball player, but he was also successful in breaking the color barrier in sports.
If Troy had been born at the time of Jackie Robinson, could he have also broken the color barrier, or was it the courage and talent of Jackie Robinson that helped integration? According to Troy, all that was needed was one determined and talented athlete to integrate black players into white Major League teams, and Jackie Robinson just happened to be born at just the right time.