On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers broke the colour line in MLB.
His story has been told in books and films. A crucial aspect of the story was usually overlooked until recently.
He was a Christian. Every night before bed, he prayed on his knees. “It brings you closer to God,” he said.
Both Robinson and Dodgers president Branch Rickey were Methodists. On Sundays, Rickey didn't drink or smoke, and Robinson taught Sunday School.
Religion Unplugged: “I think there are several reasons why his faith has been ignored.” “One is that Robinson, unlike Rickey, kept his faith private.
He didn't mention it often. Matthew says Jesus told us not to pray publicly. Second, Robinson's significance is in baseball and civil rights, not religion.
Rickey knew he would face discrimination if Robinson became the first Black player in the majors since the nineteenth century.
He knew Robinson had a temper problem and feared losing control would make integrating baseball more difficult.
“I'm looking for a ballplayer with the guts not to fight back,” Rickey said when they met in 1945.
White hotel clerk denied black Robinson room, waiter denied Robinson service, white train conductor called him ‘boy' and stuck a finger in his face.
“Rickey then became a foul-mouthed opponent who derided ‘my race, my parents, in almost unendurable language.'”
Rickey took out a book and read Matthew 5:39 from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. And whoever smiteth you on the right cheek, turn to him also the other.
“I have two cheeks, Mr. Rickey,” Robinson said.