Exciting and controversial, Jackie Robinson broke the
color line and became the first black player to play in the major leagues.
In 1945, while batting .345 with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro
League, Robinson met Branch Rickey, President and GM of the Brooklyn
Dodgers. Rickey told him the only way to win acceptance was to let his
skills do the talking. It would be a struggle and Rickey urged him to
marry his girlfriend Rachel for he would need all the support he could
get. In February, 1946, he married her and a few weeks later his journey
would begin. Robinson was assigned to the Montreal club in the
International League. There, he was converted from shortstop to second
base and led the league in batting at .349. In 1947, Robinson was promoted
to the Brooklyn Dodgers for spring training. On Opening Day, 1947, the
color line was broken when Jackie took his position at first base against
the Boston Braves. Rickeys claims were correct as some Dodger players
demanded to be traded. Ugly racial slurs from other players and fans made
it very difficult, but Robinson never fought back the whole season. What
he did do was win the Rookie of the Year award, batting .297 with 12 home
runs and a league leading 29 stolen bases. In 1948, he moved to second
where he would spend most of his playing career. In 1949, he won the
National League's Most Valuable Player award. In 1956, at the age of 37
and signs of him slowing down, Jackie was traded to the New York Giants.
Twenty three days after the trade, Robinson announced his retirement to
spend more time with his wife and three kids. This negated the trade and
angered both the Dodgers and the Giants. At the age of 53, Jackie passed
away, but his legacy was left for the black players who have followed him.
Jackie led the way.
Brooklyn Dodgers 1947-1956
See other teams FIRST black players