Ryan Chartrand

Baseball, America’s great pastime, hasn’t always been what it is today.

Monday will mark the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s monumental integration into Major League Baseball. His legacy is one that has extended beyond the baseball diamond.

Jules Tygiel, “an eminent, pioneering historian of baseball,” as history professor Matthew Hopper described him, will present “The Enduring Legacy of Jackie Robinson” Monday from 12:10 to 1 p.m. in Chumash Auditorium to commemorate the event.

“He’s the historian on Robinson,” Hopper said. “I really thought that he would have been booked by NPR or NBC News or something, but he has agreed to come here on the actual anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s integration. We’re really excited about it.”

Robinson had ties to Cal Poly. He lived on campus for roughly six months beginning in 1940, according to “Jackie Robinson: A Biography,” by Arnold Rampersad.

Robinson lived at Cal Poly because of the school’s ties to the National Youth Administration facility in Atascadero. He was assistant athletic director for NYA, which provided jobs and job training to people between 16 and 25 years of age.

Tygiel, author of “Baseball’s Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy and Pastime: Baseball as History,” currently teaches American history – including a course entitled History and Literature of Baseball – at San Francisco State University.

Coinciding with the 60th anniversary of the integration of Major League Baseball, the event will act as a way to honor this monumental component of American history.

Sixty years ago, baseball, like many areas of American life, was racially segregated, resigning black players to the confines of Negro leagues. Only whites were offered opportunities to make it to the majors.

But all that changed April 15, 1947, when Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers. With this seemingly simple event, he became the first player to cross the emblematic color barrier, enduring much discrimination in the process.

Robinson was specifically chosen because of his ability to overcome this discrimination, his steadfast determination and playing skills.

Now, though, the landmark event is often overlooked.

“It’s very easy for people to forget how very recently and how very real segregation was in American life,” Hopper said. “Events like this help us to reflect on how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go.”

It is easy to see where progress has been made, but there’s still much ground to cover, Hopper said, citing the controversy surrounding Don Imus’ racially-charged remarks about the Rutgers women’s basketball team as an example.

“The Enduring Legacy of Jackie Robinson” presentation is open to both Cal Poly students and the general public. For more information, call (805) 756-2543.

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