On April 15, 1947, the Brooklyn Dodgers faced off against the Boston Braves in an Opening Day contest at Ebbets Field, winning by a score of 5-3. The crowd of 26,653 witnessed one of the most historically significant events in MLB history, as Jackie 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 was merely a footnote on the groundbreaking day. Robinson did reach on an error and scored in the seventh inning to tie the game.
Robinson collected his first career hit the following game on a bunt up the first-base line. 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 the fans in attendance for being behind him and cheering him on, 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 RBI 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 RBI over 10 seasons with the Dodgers. Robinson added 197 stolen bases, and helped guide Brooklyn to their lone World Series title in 1955.
He set career highs in RBI (124), hits (203), triples (12), stolen bases (37), slugging percentage (.522) and batting average (.342) during his 1949 MVP season.
Dodgers, MLB celebrate Jackie Robinson
The Los Angeles Dodgers further honored Robinson’s legacy by unveiling a bronze statue at Dodger Stadium on the 70-year anniversary of his debut. The statue was originally installed on the reserve level but now resides in the center field plaza.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts started a tradition of leading players, front office and additional personnel to the statue every Jackie Robinson Day.
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. Starting in 2022, they now do so with the 42 in Dodger Blue, regardless of their team’s primary color.