Ind. native remembers MLB icon Jackie Robinson

INDIANAPOLIS - Every player in Major League Baseball wore a No. 42 jersey Tuesday in honor of Jackie Roosevelt Robinson.

Robinson was the first African-American to play major league baseball and he broke the color carrier on April 15, 1947 when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers.  One year later, pitcher Carl Erskine joined the team.

Erskine, an Anderson native, won 100 games and pitched two no-hitters. He said Robinson's accomplishments were extraordinary. 

"I was there.  I saw a lot of this take place. I saw America change from a segregated society to one that says if a guy is good he ought to be in the big leagues.  Why would we keep him out? I'd like to see him play. People began to realize we've been wrong about this white-and-black thing. I think that was real history in the making," Erskine said.

North Central High School student athletes Roy Thurman and Joshua Matthews said they were inspired by Robinson.

"He (wasn't) scared of anything and that's what motivated me not to be scared of anything in baseball. Even when he got death threats, he said 'I'm going to hit that ball,'" Thurman said.

"I can't imagine how difficult it was. It must have been tough mentally and physically," Matthews said.

Currently there are only 67 African-American players in major league baseball, less than 8 percent of the total number of players in uniform, the lowest percentage since 1958.

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