Apr 15, 1947 CE: Jackie Robinson Day

Apr 15, 1947 CE: Jackie Robinson Day

On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson took the field as the Brooklyn Dodgers’ first baseman, becoming the first Black athlete to play in modern Major League Baseball.


9 - 12


Social Studies, U.S. History

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On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson took to the field as the first-baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Robinson was the first Black player to play Major League Baseball (MLB) in the modern era. Since 2004, baseball has honored Robinson’s legacy by celebrating April 15 as “Jackie Robinson Day.”

Robinson was an experienced athlete, having played for the Kansas City Monarchs (part of the Negro leagues) and MLB minor-league teams. Although Robinson was not the best player from the Negro Leagues (most historians agree that was legendary catcher Josh Gibson), he was well-respected, and his even temper impressed Dodgers’ president Branch Rickey. Rickey was looking for a Black player with “guts enough not to fight back” against the racist treatment that was sure to come.

Robinson and Larry Doby, a Black athlete hired by Cleveland just 11 weeks after Robinson, endured racist taunts from fans, opposing players, and even teammates. They played spectacularly despite the discrimination. Robinson would go on to be the first recipient of the Rookie of the Year Award in 1947 and win the National League’s Most Valuable Player (NL MVP) Award in 1949.

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National Geographic Society
National Geographic Society
Last Updated

October 19, 2023

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