April 15 Marks A Great Day For Baseball and Jackie Robinson
On April 15, 1947, 28-year-old Jackie Robinson became the first African American to play in Major League Baseball when he competed for the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field. Baseball had been segregated for more than 50 years when Robinson broke the color barrier.
Robinson had a truly phenomenal baseball career. His first year in the Major Leagues, Robinson was a star infielder and outfielder for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Matter of fact, he was named Rookie of the Year for the National League. Just two seasons later, Jackie was honored as the National League's Most Valuable Player.
Jackie Robinson was on the the National League All-Star team for six years in a row, 1949-1954, quite a feat in itself. Robinson ended up leading the Dodgers to six NL pennants and in 1955, the World Series. Robinson ended up retiring from baseball in 1957.
As talented and successful as he was in baseball, Jackie Robinson faced discrimination from fans, players, and even some of his own teammates the entire time he played Major League ball. Worse yet, when the Dodgers were playing games in the South, Robinson couldn't even stay at the same hotels or dine at the same restaurants with his teammates because of the Jim Crow laws.
After retiring from baseball, Jackie Robinson became a civil rights activist in the hopes of addressing a lot of the situations that he himself had dealt with head-on. Robinson passed away in 1972 in Connecticut. He was 53 years old.
Exactly 50 years to that special day when Jackie Robinson first stepped onto Ebbets Field, April 15, 1997, his groundbreaking career was honored. An honor long overdue. In a special ceremony at New York's Shea Stadium attended by over 50,000 fans, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig honored Robinson's career and permanently retired his uniform number, 42. The last player to wear that number was Yankees great Mariano Rivera.