Thank you, Jackie Robinson

When I hear the name Jackie Robinson, I am sometimes reminded of Ty Cobb, as was Branch Rickey:

“This is the most competitive man I’ve known since Ty Cobb.”
— Branch Rickey (to Red Barber)

There’s a difference, of course. No black man could have got away with Cobb’s behavior (nor could most other white men), but Robinson and Cobb had this much in common: they were both warriors.

Jackie Comes Home, May 15, 1952

No major leaguer has ever come close to Cobb’s record of 50-54 steals of home. Robinson, in his short ten-year career, was the modern player to come closest, with 19-20 (we cannot be exact because it’s not an official stat).

The Cheetah-like Cobb

Robinson may not have been the first modern player to play the game of baseball the good old-fashioned way; the way it was played before Babe Ruth. It may be that Robinson’s teammate Pistol Pete Reiser was the first. Branch Rickey might have had something to do with the baseball renaissance as well. Perhaps a renaissance was to be inevitable once non-whites were admitted into the major leagues.

In any case, it must have been a pleasure to see the old game back, after nearly two decades without Cobb.