History was made April 15, 1947.
Jackie Robinson broke major league baseball’s color barrier when he played first base for the host Brooklyn Dodgers against the Boston Braves at Ebbets Field. He became the first black American to play in the major leagues since catcher Moses Fleetwood Walker played for the Toledo Blue Stockings of the American Association in 1884.
Before a crowd of just 26,623 the Dodgers won the season opener 5-3.
Robinson made the game’s first putout when he received the throw from fellow rookie Spider Jorgensen on Dick Culler’s grounder to third base. When the Dodgers came to bat, Robinson was second in the lineup. On the mound for Boston was Johnny Sain, the National League’s winningest right-hander in 1946. Robinson grounded out to third baseman Bob Elliott.
He flied out to left fielder Danny Litwhiler in the third inning and hit into a well-executed 6-4-3 double play in the fifth.
When he batted in the seventh, Brooklyn was trailing 3-2. Eddie Stanky was on first base after opening the inning by drawing Sain’s fifth walk of the afternoon. In this bunt situation, Robinson laid down a perfect bunt up the right side. Boston’s rookie first baseman Earl Torgeson fielded it, but with Robinson speeding down the line, he was forced to hurry his throw. The ball hit Robinson and caromed away, allowing him to take second and Stanky to reach third. Pete Reiser’s double scored both runners and finished Sain. Reiser later scored on Gene Hermanski’s fly ball off reliever Mort Cooper and the Dodgers went on to win 5-3.
During his 10-year major league baseball career, Robinson won the inaugural Rookie of the Year Award in 1947, was an All-Star for six consecutive seasons from 1949-54, and won the National League Most Valuable Player Award in 1949. He was a member of the World Series champion Brooklyn Dodgers in 1955. Robinson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962. His number 42 was retired by all MLB teams.