We board the bus, though this is no ordinary bus. This bus will take us to where ever we want. Today, we are going to Ebbets Field, 1947. Jackie Robinson's first game in the major leagues. People who have heard of our project like to call it time travel, we like to think of it as hands on learning. At my high school, the physics department and the history department has joined forces to give students the most premier learning experience. Instead of reading about history, we get the chance to live it.
A place that has been forgotten and left behind in black and white photographs, is now real.
You would think that such a historic day would warrant a packed Ebbets Field, but no. The old ballpark could still cram 7,596 spectators in its bleachers before being at capacity. The front facade of the building has come to life. The red brick and iconic “Ebbets Field” sign are now real. We must look like an odd sight, a group of 20 high school kids walking with mouths open, eyes wide, while everybody around is simply treating the place for what it is: a ballpark. We find our seats on the first base line, and there he is. Jackie Robinson himself, taking grounders. A true second basemen, though tonight he’ll be playing first base. He doesn’t look like a man to make history, he doesn’t even seem to be fully aware of what’s happening. He seems like a minor league baseball player getting his chance at success in the top tier of the baseball pyramid.
The game begins. Jackie takes the field. Someone above me says “Look at that black boys smile! Bet you he can’t even believe where he’s at right now!” I turn around and begin to talk to him. He says his name Cliff. Not a supporter of Jackie playing, he tells me he came down here to see the one and only time a colored person play professional baseball. He believes Jackie will play so poorly, that no other owner would even consider taking a chance on a colored baseball player. Culler takes the plate, the pitch is thrown, he makes contact, its a hard grounder to third basemen Jorgenson. Jorgenson plucks it from the ground and throws to first in one fluid motion. And just like that Robinson records his first defensive play in the major league baseball. Though I knew it was going to happen, I still leaped out of my seat and cheered for the man
The real action began in the seventh inning. The Dodgers trailed the Braves 3 to 2. Ed Stanky comes to the plate, and he is able to get on base via a walk. Then Robinson comes to plate. The stadium erupted with applause. He is up there to get Stanky to second. He lays down a perfect bunt up the first base side. He charges out of the batters box, he is really cooking down the first baseline! The Braves didn’t expect such speed, it was supposed to be a sacrifice play. The pitcher, Sain, doesn’t know what to do. He picks the ball up and throw it to Torgenson. Torgenson misses the ball and it flies into right field. Jackie doesn’t miss a beat, he rounds first, and slides into second with ease. When it is all over, Stanky is on third, Robinson on second. The next batter, Pete Reiser slaps a ball into the right field fence, Stanky comes to plate as the tying run, Robinson crosses home as the go ahead run!
The game ends, the Dodgers win, 5 to 2. Jackie came up to bat three times. Though he failed to get a hit, he scored the winning run and was perfect in the field, eleven for eleven in defensive chances. We board the bus, this isn’t our time, we don’t belong here. I sit in the very last row. I don’t want to go to 2013, there is no history in 2013. This place, 1947, is exciting, it is the golden era of baseball. I can’t leave, no I mustn't. The bus begins to move, everyone is too busy discussing what they’ve seen, who’ve they met to notice me slip out of the emergency exit. The bus disappears, to a whole different world. I am here, alone in 1947. Maybe I’ll try playing professional baseball.
Willie Howard Mays