Just in case you might have missed the date on your calendars, April 15 is Jackie Robinson Day, the annual event when current players around the MLB wear No. 42 to commemorate the debut of one of the most influential players the game has ever seen.
Despite the ballparks being empty this year due to the pandemic hiatus, everyone who has even a tiny shred of baseball blood will still take a few moments to remember the legendary Robinson in some shape or form.
On this day in 1947, Robinson made his MLB debut for the Brooklyn Dodgers, going 0-for-3, but reaching base on an error and scoring the go-ahead run on a Pete Reiser double. The importance of that debut was that Robinson became the first black player to play in the major leagues in the 20th century after decades of racial segregation.
Thanks to our friends at baseball-reference.com, it’s quite simple to drift back in time upon accessing the box scores from one of the most important seasons in baseball history.
The game was held at Ebbetts Field against the Boston Braves. Robinson started at first base and hit second. Reiser batted third and played center field, going 2-for-2 with the aforementioned double, two walks, three runs scored and three RBI.
Brooklyn won the game 5-3. Joe Hatten started the game for the Dodgers, allowing one earned run on six hits and three walks over six full innings of work. Righty reliever Hal Gregg picked up the victory while Hugh Casey registered the save.
Consequently, after finishing the 1947 season with a .297/.383/.427 slash line alongside 31 doubles, 12 homers and 29 stolen bases, Robinson was named the MLB’s first-ever Rookie of the Year.
Two seasons later, Robinson earned the 1949 National League MVP award following a campaign of hitting an incredible .342/.432/.528 with 38 doubles, 12 triples, 16 homers, 124 RBI and 37 steals.
Robinson was also part of the 1955 World Series winning Dodgers squad, and while he did not perform up to standards by some pundits that series, he entered the history book nonetheless by stealing home in Game 1.
If you never had the opportunity to read our story about Robinson and the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers, it’s a concise account of one of the greatest squads the franchise has ever put onto the field.
The historical importance Jackie Robinson had on the game of baseball, coupled with his impressive performance once he got the chance on the big stage, was why he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first appearance on the ballot in 1962.
Jackie will always be remembered and revered, not just by those close to the Dodgers, but by all fans of the game, regardless of their team affiliation.