It’s Jackie Robinson Day! The 66th anniversary of the breaking of baseball’s color barrier by the Brooklyn Dodgers’ rookie. (Jackie went 1-3 with 11 putouts at first base against the Boston Braves.) For today’s WTW I will rank the games, per usual, and where relevant I will list a team’s first black player and the date they played their first game:
1) Rays at Red Sox, 11:05 EDT - Not a typo, it’s Patriots’ Day in Boston so it’s an early start time. (Embarrassingly the Sox were the last to integrate when Pumpsie Green took the field on July 21, 1959 - 12 years after the Dodgers.)
2) Mets at Rockies, 6:40 MDT - Before you scoff, the Mets are 7-4 and the Rockies are 8-4. All expansion teams were integrated when they entered the league.
3) Padres at Dodgers, 7:10 PDT - Because the Dodgers are Robinson’s team they get top three billing. (Although they should be forced to play a day game.)
4) Cardinals at Pirates, 7:05 EDT - The Pirates have won five of their last six including a sweep of the Reds. They are one game behind the first place Cardinals. (In a great coincidence the Cards and Bucs integrated on the same date, April 13, 1954, against different teams. The Pirates had second baseman Curt Roberts. The Cardinals had first baseman Tom Alston.)
5) Astros at A’s, 7:05 PDT - The A’s lost two of three to the Tigers but still have nine wins. The surprising Astros lost two of three to the Angels. (The A’s, then in Philadelphia, integrated on September 13, 1953 when Bob Trice was their starting pitcher.)
6) White Sox at Blue Jays, 7:07 EDT - The White Sox narrowly avoided a sweep against the Indians but are still 1-5 on their current road trip. They face Mark Buehrle who has not pitched well with the Jays. (The first black player on the White Sox was Minnie Minoso who first took the field on May 1, 1951.)
Phillies at Reds, 7:10 EDT - A decent matchup improved by having Cliff Lee throwing for the Phillies. (The Phils were the last NL team to integrate - which if you know their history with Robinson is not a surprise. John Kennedy donned a Phillies uniform for the first time on April 22, 1957. The Reds had two players of color take the field for the first time on April 17, 1954: Nino Escalara and Chuck Harmon.)
Nationals at Marlins, 7:10 EDT - The Nats were swept by the Braves over the weekend. But like a refreshing sorbet during the middle of a fine meal, they face the Marlins to cleanse the palate. (Both teams were integrated upon their formation.)
9) Angels at Twins, 7:10 CDT - Someone had to be last on a mediocre schedule. (The Twins, who were originally the first Washington franchise, integrated with Carlos Paula on September 6, 1954.)
I will do the other franchises tomorrow as Jackie Robinson Day actually extends to Tuesday this year.
Jackie Robinson broke the color line in Major League Baseball when he debuted with the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947. This decision would not only integrate baseball, but would help the country work to achieve equal rights for all. Civil Rights leader, Martin Luther King, Jr., once commented to baseball pitcher Don Newcombe, “Don, you and Jackie will never know how easy you made my job, through what you went through on the baseball field.”
Before becoming famous, Lt. Jack R. Robinson was court-martialed at Camp Hood, Texas, because he refused to move to the back of the bus after being told to do so by a bus driver and disobeying an order from a superior officer. Robinson was acquitted of all charges and received an honorable discharge, but this was not the only experience he would have in fighting discrimination.
After retiring from baseball, Robinson turned much of his attention to civil rights issues. He wrote to several Presidents about the cause, and even attended the March on Washington.
Many of these milestone events from Robinson’s life are documented in primary sources from the National Archives.
FJP: “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives,” Robinson wrote in his autobiography. “I cannot possibly believe I have it made while so many of my black brothers and sisters are hungry, inadequately housed, insufficiently clothed, denied their dignity as they live in slums or barely exist on welfare.”
This morning at 9:42 AM EST, join us on twitter in commemorating Jackie Robinson Day with a worldwide Twitter thank you.
You can choose to do the twitter part, but thanking the man is a great idea.
In this exclusive for Memories & Dreams subscribers, the Hall of Fame digs into its vast film and video archive to show you an excerpt from an interview with Clyde Sukeforth. Sukeforth was the Brooklyn Dodgers scout sent by Branch Rickey to see Jackie Robinson and bring him back to New York to meet with Rickey.
The Baseball Hall of Fame is the best museum ever.
“If I had to choose between baseball’s Hall of Fame and first class citizenship for all of my people. I would say first-class citizenship.”
“The most luxurious possession, the richest treasure anybody has, is his personal dignity.”
“At the beginning of the World Series of 1947, I experienced a completely new emotion when the National Anthem was played. This time, I thought, it is being played for me, as much as for anyone else.”
“We ask for nothing special. We ask only to be permitted to live as you live, and as our nation’s constitution provides.”
“Money is America’s god and businesspeople can dig black power if it coincides with green power.”
“How much more effective our demands for a piece of the action would be if we were negotiating from the strength or our own self-reliance rather than stating our case in the role of beggar or someone crying out for charity.”
“Next time I go to a movie and see a picture of a little ordinary girl become a great star… I’ll believe it. And whenever I hear my wife read fairy tales to my little boy, I’ll listen. I know now that dreams do come true.”
“I remember even as a small boy, having a lot of pride in my mother. I thought she must have had some kid of magic to be able to do all the things she did, to work so hard and never complain and to make us all feel happy. We had our family squabbles and spats, but we were a well-knit unit.”
“It hadn’t been easy. Some of my own teammates refused to accept me because I was black. I had been forced to live with snubs and rebuffs and rejections.”
“[On Branch Rickey] In a way I feel I was the son he had lost and he was the father I had lost.”
“I don’t owe any living person my soul, my integrity, my freedom of thought and speech.”
“I’m not buying anti-white attitudes. Too many people who are not black have proven to me that being real isn’t qualified by skin color but by character.”
Exclusive: Legendary gives an exclusive behind the scenes look at the making of “42”.
April 10, 1947: Jackie Robinson Signs with the Brooklyn Dodgers
On this day in 1947, Baseball Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson was signed to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers, becoming the first African American to play for Major League Baseball. He smashed records and knocked down major social barriers on his way to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.
Test your knowledge of Jackie Robinson and his contributions off the field with PBS Black Culture Connection’s Jackie Robinson quiz.
Photo Credit: National Baseball Hall of Fame Library, Cooperstown, NY.
Rare images from EBONY magazine of Jackie Robinson.
This Corbis Images photo shows Jackie Robinson, who was born on this day (Jan. 31) in 1919 in Cairo, Ga., at the Havana Military Academy, where the Dodgers’ Montreal Royals farm team held camp during spring training in 1947.
“There’s not an American in this country free until every one of us is free.”
- Jackie Robinson
October 24, 2012 marks the 40th anniversary of the death of Jackie Robinson, who broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball in 1947. There are myriad sources telling of Mr. Robinson’s career and legacy. Obit of the Day will, instead, share some little known facts:
- Jack Roosevelt Robinson was born on January 31, 1919. He was named for President Theodore Roosevelt who died on January 6 of that year.
- Jackie attended UCLA and was the first student to letter in four sports: baseball, football, basketball, and track.
- He won the NCAA Long Jump championship in 1940.
- While at UCLA his worst sport was baseball.
- During World War II Robinson enlisted in the Army. In 1944 while serving at Ft. Hood in Waco, Texas he was court martialled for refusing an order to move to the back of a bus because of his race. He was found not guilty.
- Robinson would play one season in the Negro Leagues for the Kansas City Monarchs. According to Robinson, if Branch Rickey of the Dodgers hadn’t recruited him for the majors, he would have quit playing baseball and become a coach at Sam Houston College.
- Robinson was 28 years old when he stepped on the field on April 15, 1947 as the first African American major leaguer in over 60 years. He won the Rookie of the Year award, which is now named for him.
- Here are his stats for his career with the Brooklyn Dodgers which included the 1949 MVP Award as well Brooklyn’s only World Series victory in 1955.
- Jackie played himself in The Jackie Robinson Story (1950), his wife was played by Ruby Dee.
- He was traded to the New York Giants, the Dodgers NL rival, after the 1957 season. He never played for the Giants having already signed a contract to work for Chock Full O’ Nuts - a coffee company.
- In 1965 Robinson became the first African Americans sports analyst when he worked on ABC’s Game of the Week.
- Robinson was a Republican, supporting Richard Nixon in the 1960 election as well as Nelson Rockefeller’s presidential and gubernatorial bids. He left the party in 1968 after they failed to support civil rights legislation in the 1960s.
- Robinson’s last public appearance was at game 2 of the 1972 World Series (October 15) where he threw out the first pitch in honor of the 25th anniversary of the integration of baseball. The Cincinnati Reds were playing the Oakland A’s.
- He died at the age of 53 from a heart attack in his home. His eulogy was given by the Reverend Jesse Jackson.
- In 1997 Jackie Robinson became the first, and so far only, player to have his uniform number retired throughout all of baseball. (Wayne Gretzky is the only other professional athlete to earn that honor.)
- Jackie’s brother, Mack Robinson, won the silver medal at the 1936 Berlin Olympics in the 100 meter sprint. Jesse Owens finished first.
- Jackie’s wife, Rachel, was an associate professor of psychiatric nursing at Yale University at the time of Jackie’s death.
- Jackie’s son, Jackie Jr., died in a car accident in 1971. He was only 27.
Sources: NYTimes, jackierobinson.com, Wikipedia, IMDB, The National Archives, baseball-reference.com
(Image is copyright of the Associated Press and courtesy of nabnyc.blogspot.com )
And here’s the trailer for the April 2013 release of the film 42. Yes that’s Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey and Chadwick Boseman as Jackie. Music by Jay-Z.
The first trailer for 42 the Jackie Robinson film directed by Brian Helgeland.
Chadwick Boseman as Jackie Robinson
Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey
Alan Tudyk as Ben Chapman
Christopher Meloni as Leo Durocher
and did I mention Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey?
Full cast list here.
Opens April 12, 2013.
Copyright Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures
April 15, 1947
0/3, 1 run, 1 grounded into double play, 1 sacrifice hit
11 putouts at first base
Dodgers 5, Braves 3
Only 65 years ago.
(Image courtesy of NABNYC. Thanks to retrosheet.org)