by Steve Jones

This content is part of a series.

David, Real Restraint (29 of 32)
Series: David - Keeping It Real
Steve Jones
II Samuel 16

Introduction: In 1945, Branch Rickey was the president of the Brooklyn Dodgers major league baseball team. Rickey was a flamboyant, cigar-smoking, Bible-quoting mid-westerner whose ordinary speech often resembled a sermon. This devout Christian had made a decision. His decision was that he was going to integrate major league baseball. But he needed a special man. He needed a man who was not only an outstanding athlete but was also an outstanding human being. He found that man in Jackie Robinson. Robinson was a world-class college athlete. He was the first student at UCLA to win varsity letters in four sports: football, basketball, baseball and track. Robinson was also a devoted Christian who didn't smoke or drink. On August 28, 1945, at Dodgers headquarters in Brooklyn, the two met for the first time at Rickey's invitation.
Rickey talked for a while about his extensive search and his investigation of Robinson both as an athlete and a person. He then revealed the true purpose of his search to hire Robinson to play for the Dodgers. Robinson reportedly was both stunned and skeptical, and later said it had taken him a long time to convince himself that Rickey meant it.
Then, for the next three hours, Rickey harangued Robinson ... graphically illustrating the difficulties Robinson might face. He portrayed the hostile teammate, the abusive opponent, the insulting fan, and the obstinate hotel clerk. Rickey challenged the black man with racial epithets and verbally transplanted him into ugly confrontations. Robinson later wrote, "His acting was so convincing that I found myself chain-gripping my fingers behind my back." Rickey also read to Robinson from Jesus Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 5:39 "If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also."
In the face of this onslaught Robinson finally responded, "Mr. Rickey, do you want a ...

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