April 15, 2017


The Miracle of Kershaw (Joe Posnanski, 4/15/17, The Medium)

You probably know that, by the best available data, Jackie Robinson hit .097 his one year of playing baseball at UCLA. It seems impossible to believe, but it has been repeated by so many sources and connects to so many other stories (including one college newspaper story which referred to something as "colder than Jackie Robinson's batting average") that it's probably true.

Jackie Robinson was a brilliant football player at UCLA, averaging 11 yards per carry in one of his seasons. If times had been different, he would unquestionably have been a high NFL draft pick and a potential star.

Jackie Robinson was an extraordinary track star. He was a real threat in the long jump for the 1940 Olympics, but those were canceled. He did not want to long jump in college, but he did anyway and won the NCAA title. If times had been different, he would unquestionably have been an Olympic star.

Jackie Robinson was a fantastic basketball player. He wasn't a particularly tall man -- 5-foot-11 was his listed height -- but he was a great shooter and twice led the Pacific Coast Conference in scoring. Local writers moaned that the Eastern elite did not appreciate that Robinson was the best player in the country. If times had been different, he might have had a shot to play in the NBA (this was before there even WAS an NBA).

Jackie Robinson reached the semifinal of what was then called the "National Negro Tennis Tournament," and he did so even though he rarely played tennis. Jackie Robinson won the Pacific Coast Conference golf tournament, even though he rarely played golf. He won various swimming championships while still in high school and could have followed that route too in a time different from his own.

And he hit .097 in college. Think about that for a moment.

Posted by at April 15, 2017 11:11 AM