Happy Jackie Robinson Day and 5 things you probably don’t know about his first game

It’s been 72 years since Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color line and became a cultural touchstone. His debut, against the Boston Braves at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn on April 15, 1947, was a tame affair.

Robinson started at first base (he would play the bulk of his career at second base). He went hitless, but his seventh inning sacrifice bunt was mishandled by Boston’s first baseman allowing Eddie Stanky and Robinson to advance to third and second, respectively. The next batter, Pete Reiser, doubled them both home, turning a 3-2 deficit to a 4-3 lead. The Dodgers won 5-3.

But we know that. It’s history book stuff. Here are five things you probably don’t know about that historic day.

1. The Sporting News (aka The Bible of Baseball) published a headline in its April 16, 1947 edition opining that Robinson was “Likely to See Service Mostly as (a) Pinch Runner.”

2. There was no word whatsoever about Jackie Robinson on the front page of the April 16, 1947 edition of the Brooklyn Eagle. There were a couple of photos on the front sports page — one of the Dodgers starting infield and one of Robinson greeting the borough president. And there were five paragraphs about him buried in a compilation column. So the Eagle didn’t ignore event, but neither did it treat it as a seminal moment people would still be talking about for decades.

3. Robinson chatted with reporters after the game. Among other things, he told them (per U.P. correspondent Oscar Fraley) “he would wait until the shower room was clear before making his ablutions.”

4. Gayle Talbot of the Associated Press felt compelled to bat out a quick scouting report: “Jackie yet is far from being a fancy Dan around first base. He displayed no power at bat, hoisting the ball out of the infield only once in four tries.” Hey, want do you want for a pinch runner?

5. When, at long last, Robinson headed for the shower room, he spotted a pile of congratulatory telegrams. “Holy smokes,” he said, “somebody certainly got excited about this.”

…read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Sports


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