Sunday, April 15, 2012

This day in history - Jackie Robinson breaks the colour barrier in Major League Baseball

Not much needs to be said about this. On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson made his debut at Ebbets Field, breaking the colour barrier in Major League Baseball. It was before a crowd of 26,623, including more than 14,000 black patrons.

The challenges faced by Robinson are well documented, as is his success.
Robinson finished the season having played in 151 games for the Dodgers, with a batting average of .297, an on-base percentage of .383, and a .427 slugging percentage. He had 175 hits (scoring 125 runs) including 31 doubles, 5 triples, 12 home runs, driving in 48 runs for the year. Robinson led the league in sacrifice hits, with 28, and in stolen bases, with 29. His cumulative performance earned him the inaugural Major League Baseball Rookie of the Year Award (separate National and American League Rookie of the Year honors were not awarded until 1949).

According to a poll conducted in 1947, Robinson was the second most popular man in the country, behind Bing Crosby. In 1999, he was named by Time on its list of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century. Also in 1999, he ranked number 44 on the Sporting News list of Baseball's 100 Greatest Players and was elected to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team as the top vote-getter among second basemen.

Still, it's good to remind ourselves that 1947 is not that long ago, just in case anyone was inclined to be overly smug about how far things have come.

I often think it's unlikely anyone would not have seen classic footage like Robinson stealing home against the Yankees. But sometimes people, maybe younger people, haven't had the opportunity. No harm done to show it again.

Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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