What I Learned from Jackie Robinson: Interview with Pitcher Lee Pfund
From his days at UCLA, onto the Negro League with the Kansas City Monarchs, and eventually in the Majors with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Jackie Robinson encountered more opposition than most of us will face in a lifetime. However, according to his Dodgers teammate, Lee Pfund, Jackie found courage and inspiration in the crucified and risen Savior, Jesus Christ. In this Billy Graham Center exclusive interview, What I Learned from Jackie Robinson, Lee Pfund shares some candid memories from his time playing ball with Jackie under Dodgers’ manager Branch Rickey (played by Harrison Ford in the movie, “42”).
The chief legacy of Jackie Robinson, according to Lee, was his willingness to “sacrifice”. In this way, Jackie’s legacy directs our attention to the One who made the ultimate sacrifice: the Lord Jesus Christ. On account of his great love, Jesus shed his blood (Eph. 5:2) as an offering for our sin (Rom. 8:3). “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). As a result, all who trust in Christ for salvation no longer stand in the crosshairs of divine judgment (Rom. 5:10–11); instead, we are embraced by God as his beloved children (Gal. 3:26). This is the good news of Christ that infuses life with purpose and provides hope for eternity.
Suggestions for Discussion
Because men and women are made in God’s image, there are aspects of our behavior that reflect the reality of our Creator. Qualities such as mercy, grace, kindness, and love direct attention to the ultimate source of these virtues—the triune God. When talking with friends and loved ones about Christian faith, such connection points open up conversation. Toward this end, the following questions are intended to help you reflect on the connections between the love of God and the needs of the human heart as they are exposed in the Jackie Robinson story.
- How do the sacrifices of Jackie Robinson, in which he denied himself for the sake of something greater, direct us to the ultimate sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ?
- How does Jackie Robinson’s legacy inspire us to step out in faith in abandonment of what is easy and comfortable?
- How do the challenges which Jackie Robinson faced (e.g., prejudice, marginalization, and verbal abuse) substantiate the problem of sin and death?
- How does Jackie Robinson’s patience and humility remind you of our Lord’s example?
- How does the conversion of Jackie Robinson’s teammates, from open opposition to support, in some sense reflect the transformation of men and women who trust in Christ for salvation?