April 15 not only is a historic date in Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers franchise history, but it is celebrated across Major League Baseball as a whole, to commemorate Jackie Robison breaking the color barrier in 1947.
Days after signing with Brooklyn, Robinson immediately reported to the Dodgers for their Opening Day matchup against the Boston Braves. The crowd of 26,653 witnessed one of the most historically significant events in MLB history, as Robinson started at first base.
With his wife, Rachel, and son, Jackie Robinson Jr., in attendance, Robinson made his MLB debut and broke the color barrier. That he went 0-for-3 in a Brooklyn 5-3 win at Ebbets Field was merely a footnote on the groundbreaking day.
Robinson did reach on an error and scored in the seventh inning to tie the game. Although the future six-time All-Star was always a rather composed person, he admitted to some nerves during the contest.
Once the game concluded, Robison credited fans in attendance for supporting him, which was monumental considering racial tensions at the time.
Robinson finished his first season batting .297/.383/.427 with 31 doubles, five triples, 12 home runs, 48 RBIs and 29 stolen bases. He was named Rookie of the Year, an award that at the time was only given to one player in the Majors.
Robinson went on to hit a lifetime .311/.409/.474 with 273 doubles, 54 triples, 137 home runs and 734 RBIs over 10 seasons with the Dodgers. Robinson collected 197 stolen bases, and helped guide Brooklyn to their lone World Series title in 1955.
He set career highs in RBIs (124), hits (203), triple (12), stolen bases (37), slugging percentage (.522) and batting average (.342) during an MVP season in 1949.
MLB continues to honor Robinson’s legacy by having all players and coaches wear the iconic and retired No. 42, each season on April 15 — known across the sport as Jackie Robinson Day.
Dodgers play first game after move from Brooklyn
On April 18, 1958, the Dodgers played their first game since moving from Brooklyn. They faced the Giants, who uprooted from New York, suffering an 8-0 loss at Seals Stadium in San Francisco.
Among notable highlights in the first MLB game on the West Coast, the Dodgers’ Charlie Neal led off the second inning with a single for the first hit, and the Giants’ Daryl Spencer provided the first home run by taking Don Drysdale deep in the fourth.
The Giants finished 80-74 in the eight-team National League in 1958, placing third. The Dodgers went 71-83 and finished seventh in the standings. Seals Stadium remained the Giants’ home through the 1959 season before they moved to Candlestick Park in 1960.
Jackie Robinson statue unveiled at Dodger Stadium
While the Los Angeles Dodgers and MLB annually celebrate Robinson each April 15, the club honored the Hall of Famer on the 70th anniversary of his breaking the color barrier by unveiling a statue in 2017.
Originally positioned on the Reserve Level along the left-field line, it has since been moved to the renovated center field plaza area. The statue is the first of its kind at Dodger Stadium.
Vin Scully, Magic Johnson and members of Robinson’s family were among those in attendance for the pregame ceremony.
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