Nobody talks about Robinson's defense

Updated: April 15, 2005, 4:40 PM ET
By Rob Neyer | ESPN Insider
Let's play word association today. Ready?

Babe Ruth

"Power" (or maybe "714"). Right.

Willie Mays

"The Catch."

Ted Williams

"The best hitter who ever lived."

Hank Aaron

"Consistency" (or maybe "755").

One more ... Jackie Robinson.

"Pioneer." Right again.

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Fair enough. Jackie Robinson will forever be remembered as the first black player in the major leagues since the 1880s, and he should be. On Jackie Robinson Day, I'm not going to suggest that Larry Doby or Monte Irvin or one of the other great stars of the Negro Leagues couldn't have paved the way just as Robinson did. For one thing, we'll never know if that's true. And for another, Robinson deserves a great deal of credit for being first even if he didn't have to be first.

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