On This Day: Baseball Legend Jackie Robinson Plays First Major League Game, Breaking MLB Color Barrier

by Emily Morgan
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Today the MLB is celebrating the late, great Jackie Robinson. On this day in 1947, Robinson broke the color barrier when the 28-year-old became the first African American player in Major League Baseball. 

On April 15, 1947, he changed the sport’s history forever when he stepped onto Ebbets Field in Brooklyn as an official player for the Brooklyn Dodgers in front of 26,000 fans. He took his position at first base during the game though he failed to get a base hit. However, he walked and scored a run in the Dodgers’ 5–3 victory. Before then, baseball officials had segregated the sport for more than half a century. 

Robinson finished the 1947 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. His cumulative performance earned him the inaugural Major League Baseball Rookie of the Year Award. 

In the years following, the MLB named Robinson Rookie of the Year in 1947 and was a six-time All-Star during ten seasons in the MLB, winning the World Series Title in 1955 Dodgers defeated the New York Yankees. 

Fans Celebrate the Hall of Fame With Jackie Robinson Day

The MLB has celebrated Jackie Robinson Day since 2004. That year, then-commissioner Doug Selig introduced an official commemoration of Robinson’s major league debut with the Dodgers.

MLB Players, managers, coaches, umpires, and all on-field personnel will wear the Georgia native’s conic No. 42 on games on April 15 and April 16. The extra day allows teams not playing on Thursday to pay homage to Jackie Robinson Day.

The organization announced all royalties from the sales of caps featuring the “42” logo would be donated to the Jackie Robinson Foundation. Both the league and over 30 different organizations have donated $20 million to the foundation. The foundation gives scholarships to minority youths for higher education and preserves the Hall of Famer’s legacy. 

On Thursday, the MLB Network will air a special commemoration for the late baseball player. It will include an interview with the late Chadwick Boseman, who played the Robinson in the biographical film 42.

Sadly, Boseman died on August 28, 2020. Boseman’s death coincided on the same day the MLB celebrated Jackie Robinson Day after the pandemic forced it to postpone the start of its season.

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