Thursday, October 29th, 2020

April 15, 1947 Jackie Robinson’s Opening Day

April 15, 2010 by  
Filed under Baseball History, Book Review

April 15th 1947 is one of the most signficant days in Major League history.  It is the day that Jackie Robinson– an African American–first took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers.  

Jonathan Eig’s account of the events leading up to this day and beyond are contained in Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson’s First Season.

It is common knowledge that Robinson’s appearance in the Dodger Blue began the long-overdue integration effort in baseball.  However, Robinson, a fabulous athlete, starring in both football and baseball, was chosen by Branch Rickey to be the first African American just as much for his mental strength as for his athletic talents.

Rickey made only one demand of Robinson. He asked the ballplayer to promise that he would never respond to the racist attacks that would surely come his way. When Rickey quoted a passage from Giovanni Papini’s Life of Christ — “But whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also” — Robinson sought clarification. Did Rickey want a player who didn’t have the guts to fight back? No, the boss answered, “I want a ballplayer with guts enough not to fight back.”

Over the next decade, Robinson was an integral part of a great team, including Hodges, Snyder, Reese, Newcombe, Campanella, Furillo, and others that would battle against the Yankee across a number of world series before finally winning the 1955 World Series in dramatic Game 7 fashion behind the shutout pitching of Johnny Podres.

There are many wonderful books on the Brooklyn Dodgers of the late 40s and 50s.  Opening Day, more than any other, made me not only better understand how Rickey’s decision was made and but also how important Robinson’s contributions were to his Dodger team

BoB Rating:  Home Run! (this is the definitive narrative about Robinson’s impact on the Dodgers!)

 Amazon: 4.78 /  Goodreads 3.97/ B&N 4.50) 

Below are two interviews with the author about the book on the eve of the 60th anniversary of  Jackie’s first appearance in a Dodger game.

See Jackie in action (accompianied by the song Did you see Jackie Robinson hit that ball?)

Here is Robinson stealing home against the Yankees.  Controversy still surrounds whether he was safe or out.  Yogi Berra contends he was out.  Recent slow motion footage by MLB TV seemed to agree more with the umpire.  Yet, what cannot be denied was the daring nature of Robinson’s effort.

and finally, a retrospective to the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers–the year Dem Bums finally beat the mighty Yanks.

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