In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson Extension Activities
A three-act play about Jackie Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers that shows the racial prejudice faced by the first black player in Major League Baseball. Plus, a teaching guide.
- Grades: 3–5
About this book
Jackie Robinson at Home in the Major Leagues
by Justin Martin
Characters (in order of appearance)
BRANCH RICKEY: President of the Brooklyn Dodgers
ENOS SLAUGHTER: Cardinals left fielder
TERRY MOORE: Cardinals center fielder
PEEWEE REESE: Captain of the Brooklyn Dodgers
GEORGE MUNGER: Cardinals pitcher (nonspeaking role)
NEWSPAPER REPORTERS 1–3
PHOTOGRAPHERS 1–3 (nonspeaking roles)
SCENE: 1947. Branch Rickey's office in Brooklyn, New York.
NARRATOR: Prior to 1947, baseball was divided by race. Black players were not allowed to play on major-league teams such as the New York Yankees or the Chicago Cubs. Instead, they played in the Negro League, which was composed of teams like the Kansas City Monarchs and the Birmingham Black Barons. A meeting between Branch Rickey, the Brooklyn Dodgers president, and a talented young black ballplayer named Jackie Robinson was to change all of that.
RICKEY: Any idea why I called you here, Jackie?
JACKIE: I thought probably you were going to offer me a chance to play in the Negro League. Maybe something with the Brooklyn Brown Dodgers.
RICKEY: No. I want you to play in the Majors. For the Brooklyn Dodgers. It's time to put an end to this color barrier thing. Black players should play in the Majors. You're just the ballplayer to—
JACKIE: Hold on a minute. The majors? Are you kidding?
RICKEY: Look — I'm not saying it's going to be easy. Fans may boo when you walk out onto the field. Other players may call you names. Pitchers may throw the ball at your head. But whatever happens, you cannot lose your temper. Got that?
JACKIE: Mr. Rickey, are you looking for a player who doesn't have the guts to fight back?
RICKEY: Not all, Jackie. I'm looking for a player with guts enough not to fight back!
JACKIE (thinking for a moment and then nodding his head): You've got yourself a deal.
SCENE: Dodgers Stadium, in Brooklyn, New York. The Brooklyn Dodgers vs. the Saint Louis Cardinals.
NARRATOR: During the warm-up period before a baseball game, players usually visit with their friends on the other team. The Dodgers-Cardinals game was no exception. The players mingled, talking and laughing. Jackie Robinson and his friend PeeWee Reese walked over to where two Cardinal outfielders, Enos Slaughter and Terry Moore, were standing. PeeWee shook Slaughter's hand and then Moore's. Jackie Robinson held out his hand . . .
(Robinson reaches out to shake Enos Slaughter's hand.)
SLAUGHTER (pulling away his hand): No way. I ain't shaking no black man's hand.
MOORE: Goes double for me. I don't want his skin color rubbing off on me.
SLAUGHTER: Good one, Terry!
(They laugh and high-five each other.)
NARRATOR: Jackie started to say something, but then he remembered Branch Rickey's advice. As he walked away, PeeWee put his arm around Jackie to show the other players and the fans that they were friends.
PEEWEE: Don't let it get to you, Jackie. Slaughter and Moore are just narrow-minded fools. They're not even worth worrying about.
JACKIE: That may be true, but what they said still hurts me.
PEEWEE: You've just got to ignore those two bozos. Knock the ball out of the park—that'll show 'em.
NARRATOR: Brooklyn fans were famous for being some of the meanest fans around. When Jackie came up to bat, many of the hometown fans were as unfriendly as Slaughter and Moore had been.
(Jackie walks to home plate to bat against Cardinals pitcher George Munger. Most of the fans greet him with boos.)
FANS 2–6: Boooo! Robinson, you're nothing but a bum! Boooooo! Go back to where you came from, ya bum!
FAN 1: Yaaay! Go Jackie! Out of the park, slugger! Come on, come on!
ANNOUNCER: George Munger goes into his windup. And here's the pitch. Robinson hits the ball hard! It's headed toward deep center field! Slaughter and Moore are going back, they're going waaay back! The ball's over their heads! It's going to roll all the way to the wall . . . there it goes! Robinson's running fast! There he goes—around first base and headed for second! Slaughter's just now getting to the ball. And Robinson's still going—he's around second, headed for third! And he makes it! Jackie Robinson has a triple!”
FANS 1–3: Yaaay! Way to go Robinson! Bring it home, Jackie! Come on home!
FANS 4–6: Boooo! Robinson's nothing but a bum! Booooo! Throw him out!
NARRATOR: In major league baseball, when a player is standing on third base, it's possible for him to run home while the pitcher is throwing a pitch. This is called stealing home. It's one of the most difficult feats in baseball. Robinson's great speed made him a master at stealing home. He stole home 19 times in his career.
(PeeWee Reese steps up to the plate to face George Munger.)
ANNOUNCER: Robinson's at third; PeeWee Reese is at the plate. Munger looks over and checks on Robinson. Now he goes into his windup, kicks high—wait a minute! There goes Robinson! He's trying to steal home! Here comes Munger's pitch! Here comes Robinson! He slides—he's sliding—he's sliding—he's safe! Holy cow, Robinson's stolen home! The Dodgers score!
FANS 1–5: Yaaay Jackie! Way to go!
FAN 6: Booooo! Robinson, you're still a bum! Booooo!
(The other five fans stop cheering and stare at Fan 6 until he or she finally gets the message. Then Fan 6 starts cheering, too.)
FANS 1–6: Yaaay Jackie! Robinson's our man!
PEEWEE (shaking Jackie's hand): Way to go, Jackie!
NARRATOR: Jackie and PeeWee walked off the field toward the dugout. Members of the press came running out to meet them. In their excitement, the reporters kept interrupting each other. Meanwhile, photographers jumped around, snapping pictures of Jackie and PeeWee.
REPORTER 1: Jackie, what do you—
REPORTER 2: Hey, Jackie, tell us about—
REPORTER 3 (shouting above the other two reporters): Jackie, how does it feel to be the first black player in major league baseball?
JACKIE: It's a great honor — and a great responsibility. I hope that my accomplishments will help make it possible for other black people to pursue their dreams.
SCENE: Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York; opening game of the 1947 World Series.
NARRATOR: The 1947 season was a challenge to Robinson. Although it was one of the toughest seasons that anyone has ever had to face, Jackie excelled. He was named Rookie of the Year, and he helped the Dodgers reach the World Series. The Dodgers were up against their arch rivals, the New York Yankees. Standing in Yankee Stadium in the opening game of the World Series, Jackie had an experience that he would later remember as the most important of his life.
(As “The Star Spangled Banner” is sung, Jackie and PeeWee stand side by side, with their hands on their hearts. PeeWee drops his hand immediately when the song is over and looks over at Jackie. Robinson's hand is still over his heart; he slowly lets it fall to his side.)
PEEWEE: Jackie—you all right, man?
PEEWEE: You sure?
JACKIE: It's just . . . while “The Star Spangled Banner” was playing, I had this whole new feeling. It's like I heard the song for the first time. I finally felt like it was being played for me, too.
PEEWEE: Well, sure, that's how it should be.
JACKIE: Yeah, that's how it should be. And today it was. (slapping PeeWee on the back) Now let's go get those Yankees!
NARRATOR: Thanks to Jackie Robinson, other black ballplayers, including such players as Hank Aaron and Willie Mays, broke into the major leagues. Jackie Robinson will always be remembered for taking one of the first and most important steps toward making all Americans feel that they are part of “the land of the free.”
Jackie Robinson Teaching Guide
Jack Roosevelt “Jackie” Robinson was born on January 31, 1919, in a small town in Georgia. He moved to Pasadena, California, when he was very young. Later he attended the University of California at Los Angeles where he was a stand-out in baseball, football, basketball, and track. While at UCLA, Robinson met Rachel Isum who later became his wife. After college, he played for the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro Leagues. In 1947, Jackie had a private meeting with Branch Rickey, president of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Rickey explained that he thought Jackie was the right player to break the color barrier which kept African Americans out of major league baseball. On April 15, 1947, Jackie played his first game for the Dodgers against the Boston Braves. He went on to win the Rookie of the Year Award that season. Other highlights of Robinson's ten-year career include playing on six all-star teams and winning a Most Valuable Player Award in1949. After retiring, he received the highest honor in baseball, election to the Hall of Fame. Jackie Robinson died in 1972 at the age of 53.
Thank You, Jackie Robinson by Barbara Cohen
Teammates by Peter Golenbock
Jackie Robinson by Richard Scott
Promises to Keep: How Jackie Robinson Changed America by Sharon Robinson
Talk About It
- The Talent Pool: Jackie Robinson was and still is a hero to many people. Ask students to name their favorite sports heroes. Write their responses on the chalkboard. Your list might go something like this: Michael Jordan, Florence Griffith Joyner, Larry Bird, Bo Jackson, Joe Montana, Charles Barkley, Dave Winfield, Nancy Kerrigan, and so on. When the list is complete, silently erase the names of all the African American athletes, one by one. After you've finished, the list will be substantially shorter. Let students tell you what the erased heroes have in common. Discuss what the world of sports would be like today if Jackie Robinson hadn't broken the color barrier.
- Think-It-Through Cards: What might have happened if Jackie Robinson had lost his temper and fought back (in the traditional sense) when the other players and fans demonstrated their prejudice? Did Robinson fight back in his own way? Divide students into groups of four or five, and have them discuss this question: What does it mean to “fight back?” After groups have had ample time to explore this question, give each a 3-by-5-inch index card with a different scenario printed on it, such as: “A bully threatens to beat you up if you don't hand over your milk money. Should you fight back?” Let groups talk about the question and decide what they would do. Finally, bring all of the groups together to share their decisions. Take notes on their responses and then read them aloud. This verbal summary will give students the opportunity to reflect on their choices. Do any of the groups revise their decisions?
Write About It
- Righting Wrongs: Jackie Robinson's good friend, PeeWee Reese, called Enos Slaughter and Terry Moore “narrow-minded” because they did not want to play baseball with an African American man. Ask students to write about what they think it means to be narrow-minded. Have they ever had a bad experience because of a person who was narrow-minded? How did they handle the situation? If students were dissatisfied by their responses, suggest that they write a dialogue between themselves and that person.
- Anthem Essays: After becoming an accepted major league baseball player, Jackie Robinson told PeeWee Reese: “I finally felt like it [the National Anthem] was being played for me, too.” Play “The Star Spangled Banner” for your class. Ask students to listen and to imagine they are Jackie Robinson. Then have them write an essay or journal entry from Jackie's point of view: What do the words mean? How does the song make them feel? Also encourage students to set down how the song personally affects them. Do they feel that it has meaning in their lives?
Be sure to give students opportunities to share their writing via read-alouds, bulletin boards, writing walls, learning centers, and so on.
Report About It
- Player Trading Cards: Encourage students to research all the people involved in the play: Branch Rickey, PeeWee Reese, Enos Slaughter, Terry Moore, George Munger, and, of course, Jackie Robinson. Students can then create trading cards — complete with pictures and biographies — for each of these history makers. When they are finished, students may use the cards to retell the story of Jackie Robinson.
- Civil Rights Countdown: Invite students to research the key events that have contributed to the breakdown of the color barrier in the United States and present that information in the form of a time line. Students may choose to represent only sports-related events or a more comprehensive history of the civil rights movement.