Baseball’s Major Change

By | Apr 15, 2009

For many April 15th is the deadline for paying their tax for the prior year. Baseball fans know this as the day that baseball changed. It was on April 15, 1947 that the The Brooklyn Dodgers under General Manager Branch Rickey played Negro-League star Jackie Robinson on opening day.

By the end of the year two other teams would also field Negro-league players. Both of these teams were in the American League. Larry Doby for the Cleveland Indians on July 5th and two weeks later Hank Thompson became a member of the St. Louis Browns.

It wouldn’t be until more than 12 years later that each of the 16 teams playing in the two leagues would become integrated. The Boston Red Sox debuted Pumpsie Green as a pinch-runner on July 21, 1959.

On the 50th anniversary Major League Baseball retired his number 42. Since that date only those who were wearing 42 before April 15, 1997 has been allowed to wear that number. Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees is the only current player wearing 42.

Jackie Robinson day has been celebrated on April 15 by Major League baseball since 2004. For the 60th anniversary Ken Griffey Jr. lead a movement to honor Jackie Robinson with a request to Robinson’s widow Rachael allowing him to wear 42 on just that day to commemorate Robinson. When he asked baseball commissioner Bud Selig, he not only was allowed, Baseball encouraged others to do the same.

Another Robinson, Frank Robinson would become the first black manager when he was made manager of the Cleveland Indians following the 1974 season. Frank Robinson, no relation to Jackie, was an 11 year old boy in 1947 and saw that he could become a Major League player.


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