“A life isn’t significant except for its impact on others.” Jackie Robinson
Quick! What is the significance of April 15? Nope. Not U.S. Tax Day. It is the day Jackie Robinson made his major league debut in 1947 and since 2004 Major League Baseball has celebrated Jackie Robinson Day on that day each year. It is a good thing they did because the Hall-of-Famer’s off-field legacy is so incredible, we might forget that he happened to also be an amazing baseball player once upon a time.
Leadership is the application of influence. Some people ooze influence. Have you ever been around anyone like that? For me, a Marine Major General comes to mind. Every time I speak with him there is an ever-present sense that he has impacted countless lives. Jackie Robinson was that way. Imagine living your life in such a manner that a movie is made of your life story 22 years before you die? The movie 42 was terrific. But it wasn’t the first Jackie Robinson movie. In 1950, The Jackie Robinson Story, in which Jackie Robinson starred, was released and a colorized version is now available on Amazon Prime.
Have a look at this excerpt from Becoming a Person of Influence.
Brad Herzog, author of The Sports 100, has identified Jackie Robinson as the most influential person in American sports history.
“First there are those who have changed the way the game is played…Then there are those men and women whose presence and performance forever altered the sporting scene in a fundamental manner…And, finally, there are the handful of sports figures whose influence transcended the playing fields and impacted American culture…Robinson, to a greater extent that anyone else, was all three types in one.”
I think perhaps the greatest measure of Jackie Robinson’s influence is found in the family he left behind. The best thing he ever did was marry Rachel Annetta Isum. At 94, Rachel is still going strong as a person of significance. She has influenced the world as the wife of one the greatest players of all time, as a nurse and professor, as a real estate developer, as a philanthropist and founder of a non-profit, as an author, and most especially as a parent.
In the year before Jackie’s death, Rachel and Jackie suffered the loss of their 24-year-old son Jackie, Jr. in a one-car accident. However, the echo of Jackie and Rachel’s influence is still seen and heard loud and clear in their daughter Sharon and youngest son David.
Sharon was a nurse-midwife for 20 years before becoming an acclaimed author who has reached millions. You can see more of her story HERE and HERE. David traded New York City life to be the owner of a coffee plantation in Bara Village, Tanzania in 1981 and never looked back. There is a terrific article about him HERE.
It was Jackie Robinson’s intention to be respected as a human being. It is well known that he encountered hatred from The Ignorants during his life, but his influence with his own family and millions of others is nothing short of royal.