Today marks the 69th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking Major League Baseball’s color barrier, and once again, MLB and each of its 30 clubs are pulling out all the stops to celebrate the Hall of Famer’s legacy.
[By the way, if you are interested in reading about Negro League Baseball, Robert Peterson’s Only the Ball Was White is the best I’ve read.]
On Jackie Robinson Day, all players and on-field personnel across the league will don No. 42 jerseys, as they have done each April 15 since 2009. The number is otherwise retired throughout baseball in honor of the former Dodgers great, who signed his first professional contract with the organization — then in Brooklyn — in 1945. Two years later, on April 15, he started for the Dodgers vs. the Boston Braves at Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field, batting second and playing first base.That was the start of a highly productive 10-year career for Robinson, who was already 28 when he broke the color barrier. He was the National League Rookie of the Year in 1947, the NL Most Valuable Player Award winner and batting champion two years later, and he made six All-Star teams while posting a career average of .311.
Robinson, who died in 1972, also will be honored by MLB with an increased financial commitment to the Jackie Robinson Foundation, as well as special on-field, pregame ceremonies in each ballpark hosting a game today. That includes at Dodger Stadium, where Rachel and Sharon Robinson, the wife and daughter of Jackie, will be guests for the game against the Giants, along with Hall of Famer Frank Robinson and Dodgers special advisor Don Newcombe, who played with Jackie in Brooklyn.
They will watch Dave Roberts, the first minority manager in Dodgers history, guide his club against San Francisco.