On April 15, 1947, the Brooklyn Dodgers and Jackie Robinson made history when he became the first African-American player in the Major Leagues.
In his 10 seasons with the Dodgers, Robinson won a National League Rookie of the Year Award, was named NL MVP and played in six All-star games. All 10 of Robinson’s seasons in the Majors were with the Dodgers, but not without a little intrigue.
On this day in Dodgers history in 1956, Robinson was traded to the rival New York Giants. However, Robinson elected to retire after being traded rather than play for the Giants.
Legend holds Robinson, a name etched in Dodgers lore, made the decision to retire due to not wanting to play for the rival Giants.
Robinson instead chose to retire as he instead wanted to pursue business opportunities, as he explained in a letter to then-Giants owner Horace Stoneham, via MLB.com:
Dear Mr. Stoneham:
After due consideration I have decided to request to be placed on the voluntary retired list as I am going to devote my full time to the business opportunities that have been presented.
My sincere thanks to you and to Mr. Feeney for your wonderful cooperation and understanding in this matter.
I assure you that my retirement has nothing to do with my trade to your organization. From all I have heard from people who have worked with you it would have been a pleasure to have been in your organization.
Again my thanks and continued success for you and the New York Giants.
Because Robinson announced his retirement the trade, in which the Dodgers would’ve received Dick Littlefield and $30,000, it was voided.
In his 10 seasons with the Dodgers, Robinson batted .311 with 137 home runs, 734 RBIs and 197 stolen bases. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.
Jackie Robinson statue at Dodger Stadium
While MLB annually celebrates Jackie Robinson Day on April 15, the Dodgers additionally honored him by installing a statue at Dodger Stadium of his famous slide into home plate.
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