Major League Baseball is celebrating Jackie Robinson Day today, 64 years after Jackie broke the color barrier in baseball. If you go to you can see video of several current and former major league players speak about Jackie Robinson including Jose Bautisa, Andre Dawson, Lou Brock and Kevin Millar. All players and coaches will be wearing Robinson's number 42 today.
As a player, ignoring his place in history, he was special. He didn't get to the majors (because of the stupidity of the times, until the age of 28 and still he had a 10 year career with the Brooklyn Dodgers. He retired with a batting line of .311/.409/.474. He stole 197 bases, including 19 (!) steals of home. He played good defense at second base most of his career. He won the Rookie of the Year in 1947, NL MVP in 1949 and made 6 All-Star teams.
Generally, sports are just sports. Jackie on the other hand, was more important than just baseball. He gave a face to the whole civil rights movement. He changed it from being just a political issue something that people could understand as more than just an idea. It is hard to believe that such a relatively short time ago the world was so much different.