Jackie Robinson sliding inHistoric milestones aside, the man could flat out play the game of baseball, which makes this day even sweeter on


On April 15, 1947, the first black man to play Major League Baseball took the field for the Dodgers at Ebbet’s Field in Brooklyn.

The opposing team was the Boston Braves, and Jackie played first base. Over the course of the 1947 season, he showed the world that a black man could not only play the game at its highest level, but be one of the best players in the sport.

Being a great (and especially exciting) baseball player was not enough, however. The man selected by the Brooklyn Dodgers’ General Manager Branch Rickey to break the “Color Line” had to be a special human being. #42 filled the bill and them some.

While he had to contend with excelling at a difficult sport, an all-consuming pursuit for most men, he was subject to constant ridicule, harassment and death threats, not only from racist elements of the public, but many of his colleagues too. Jackie never responded to the taunts, and overcame every obstacle.

He won Rookie of the Year honors in 1947 and the Most Valuable Player award in 1949, and helped Brooklyn win its only World Series Championship in 1955. After his baseball career ended, Jack Roosevelt Robinson lent his powerful voice and immense dignity to the Civil Rights movement, and lived to see Jim Crow defeated before his untimely death at only 53 years old in 1972.

•Suggested Activities: Taunting the pitcher, stealing home.

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