The entire Major League Baseball (MLB) industry celebrates Friday the 75th anniversary of the most significant debut of all time for the Tour and one of the most defining episodes in contemporary United States history. from America.
“Jackie Robinson Day”, instituted by Commissioner Bud Selig in 2024, recalls the arrival in the modern major leagues of the first black player, on April 15, 1947, which ended the sickening racial barrier in baseball and opened the doors for, in addition to African Americans, all the other minorities who today are part of the beautiful melting pot that is MLB.
Jack Roosevelt Robinson, born in Cairo, Georgia on January 31, 1919, was the fifth son of Mallie McGriff and Jerry Robinson, who were the children of slaves. Ms McGriff moved with her children to Pasadena, California shortly after Jackie was born.
These are some of the key moments in the history of sports hero and social symbol named Jackie Robinson.
1- THE MEETING THAT DEFINED A TRANSCENDENTAL CHANGE
Wide receiver Moses Fleetwood “Fleet” Walker was the first African-American to play on one of the “Major League” circuits, which, by some sort of agreement from their leaders, were exclusively for white men.
Moses, and later his brother Weldy, played for the Toledo Blue Stockings league of the American Association (AA) in the 1884 season. Bill White, who appeared in a game for the Providence Grays in 1879, was African- American, but light- skinned, he acted white for most of his life and was able to make payroll for the Greys.
For a long time, more than one team had the idea of signing some of the best players in the black leagues, but none had the courage to face all that it would entail. Until Branch Rickey, the visionary co-owner, president and general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, decided it was time to end baseball’s ominous apartheid.
Rickey knew the first black “big leaguer” had to be a great ballplayer, but also a superior human being who had the guts not to snap at the mistreatment he would suffer for the audacity to invade. the white leagues.
On August 28, 1945, Rickey met Robinson and gave him an endurance test, acting like the bullies the baseball player and former Army second lieutenant would face, on and off the field.
“Mr. Rickey, do you want a baseball player who’s afraid to hit back?” Robinson asked at one point. Rickey replied, “I want a player with enough guts not to fight back.”
2- THE SIGNATURE WITH BROOKLYN
The Dodgers officially signed Robinson on October 23, 1945, when they announced the player would be assigned to the Montreal Royals branch of the International League (AAA) for the 1946 season. He was 26 years old.
The Dodgers, however, did not immediately say they were also recruiting black pitcher Johny Wright, who was also assigned to Montreal. More than a pitcher, the Dodgers saw Wright as someone who would lighten Robinson’s load.
3- Love at first sight
Reverend Jesse Jackson explains how Jackie Robinson inspired him in breaking down barriers in baseball and beyond
After training in Daytona Beach, Florida, Robinson arrived in Montreal, Canada for his first professional whiteball season. Although Rickey and the Dodgers were convinced that Robinson had the talent to play adequately in the major leagues, his performance in AAA would be crucial to the draft.
In his book TRUE: The Four Seasons Of Jackie Robinson, Kostya Kennedy describes Jackie’s immediate impact on the Royals and the International League:
“At the end of his first stint in Montreal, the Royals had won nine of 10 games. They led the league 16-8. Robinson, playing every day, was hitting .326. He had 13 stolen bases and 26 runs scored, more than one per game.”
By the end of the season, Robinson was batting .349 with 40 interceptions, 92 walks, and 113 runs scored. The Royals (100-54) won the league by 18.5 games and captured the championship, beating the Syracuse Chiefs in five games in the Finals.
4- THE BEGINNINGS IN MLB
On April 15, 1947, at the age of 28, Robinson hit second and first base for the Dodgers on opening day against the Boston Braves in front of 26,623 fans at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, New York. Jackie went 0-for-3 with a run scored against Johnny Sain in the Dodgers’ 5-3 win.
Robinson had his first hit the following game, a hit by third baseman at fifth against Glenn Elliott, to start a five-game no-hitter streak. He finished the season batting .297 with 125 runs scored, leading in steals (29), and earning both major league rookie of the year awards.
5- THE BIG STAR
Playing against the best and under uniquely unfavorable conditions, Robinson achieved good numbers in his first two seasons, while still learning to play professional ball for the Whites. But in 1949, his third season with the Dodgers, he became baseball’s greatest player.
Robinson led the batting (.342) and stealing (37), scored 122 runs, had 203 hits (38 doubles, 16 home runs and 12 triples), was voted into his first All-Star Game and won Most Valuable Player Award. . .
6- BROOKLYN’S ONLY WORLD SERIES
Robinson led the Dodgers to the World Series in four (1947, 1949, 1952 and 1953) of his first seven major league seasons, but sadly his team lost each time, always to hated neighbors New York Yankees. .
It wasn’t really anything new. Despite being one of baseball’s most popular and best-performing clubs in the regular season, the Dodgers have slipped eight of their nine trips to the World Series in Brooklyn. They also lost in 1916, 1920, 1941 and 1956.
The exception? The 1955 season, masterfully portrayed by journalist and writer Roger Kahn in his 1972 book “The Boys of Summer”.
After making the All-Star Game six years in a row and playing for MVP each time in his first eight seasons, age and infirmities began to take their toll on Robinson in 1955, when he hit .256 ( albeit with a good OBP of 0.378) in 105 games.
But the Dodgers won the National League 98-55, 13 games ahead of the Milwaukee Braves, and met the Yankees again in the Fall Classic. Robinson was just 4 for 22 in the World Series, but his stolen home plate in the eighth inning of Game 1 at Yankee Stadium (which the hosts won 6-5) is one of the most memorable images of the story.
The Yankees won the first two games at home, but the Dodgers swept the next three in Brooklyn, forcing a comeback in the Bronx. The Yankees won Game 6 on a great pitch from Whitey Ford, sending the series to a deciding seventh, in which Johnny Podres threw an eight-hit shutout to give the Dodgers a 2-0 victory in front of 62,465 fans.
The Dodgers lost the World Series the following year to the Yankees in what would be Robinson’s final major league season and the team’s second-to-last in New York. The Dodgers and rival New York Giants moved to Los Angeles and San Francisco respectively after 1957.
7- APPEAL FROM COOPERSTOWN
Jackie Robinson’s eldest son shares lessons he learned from his dad.
After the first election to the Hall of Fame in 1936 (the first ceremony was not held until 1939), no first-year candidates had been elected to Cooperstown, but that changed in 1962, when Robinson and the pitcher Bob Feller have been endorsed by the Baseball Writers Association of America. (BBWAA).
Feller, who missed three years of his prime to serve in the military, was named on 93.8% of the ballots, at the time the fourth highest percentage in history. Robinson got 77.5% of the vote.
8- WITHDRAWAL OF NUMBER 42
In 1997, on the 50th anniversary of the breaking of the color barrier, Commissioner Selig announced that Robinson’s number 42 would be retired from baseball for life, although players who wore it at the time would be allowed to continue to do so until their retirement. withdrawals.
Panamanian relief pitcher Mariano Rivera of the Yankees was the last major league player to wear No. 42. Rivera, who retired in 2013, is the only player elected to the Hall of Fame with 100% of the vote.
In 2007, outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. requested permission to wear number 42 on April 15 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Robinson’s debut. Two years later, all players on all teams began wearing the number 42 to celebrate the historic feat.
9-JACKIE ROBINSON DAY
Commissioner Selig permanently established a baseball-wide day of celebration in Robinson’s memory in 2004.