Robinson's story was portrayed in "The Jackie Robinson Story", a 1950 movie where Robinson played himself. The 2013 movie "42" is now out in theaters and the timing could not be better as MLB playes homage to his place in baseball history. Major League Baseball began the slow process of honoring Robinson in 1997 as they celebrated the 50th anniversary of his breaking of the color barrier. At that moment, number 42 was retired in all MLB parks as his number would never be worn again. After that, it was not until seven years later (2004) that MLB acknowledged Robinson with a ceremony in each ballpark. The following year (2005) was when the Dodgers wore throwback 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers uniforms to honor Robinson. Finally, in 2009, all players on all teams started the tradition of wearing number 42 in Robinson's honor. All has been well deserved.
However, it amazes me how long it took for this to happen. Nothing was specific about the 50th anniversary of his debut that made it any more important. Robinson's place in history was known well before Robinson's death in 1973. I wonder why MLB could not have done what it did within the last 16 years during Robinson's lifetime. He made the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. Not only was he a symbol of the change in culture, but he was one of the best in the game. Within 20 years of Robinson playing his first game for the Dodgers, the United States of America started to finally change its issues with civil rights. The fact that Robinson was the center of that change makes it baffling that MLB never did anything before 1997. We spend much time giving credit to MLB and its respect for Robinson, but this is something that should have been done sooner.
If MLB honored Robinson on the 25th anniversary of his breaking the color barrier, Robinson would have still been alive. Though he died October 24th that year, there is a chance Robinson could have attended the ceremonies. If there was anybody who deserved to see how he was appreciated, it was Robinson. What about 1977? 1982? 1987? 1992? All those years went by without much of a mention of Robinson and what he meant to the game. I enjoy the tradition which has existed since 2009, just wished it started sooner.