Jackie Robinson Major League Baseball 1947

Jackie Robinson Major League Baseball 1947  On April 15, 1947, Jack Roosevelt ‘Jackie’ Robinson made history by becoming the first African-American to play in Major League Baseball (MLB) since the organisation was formed, by the merger of the National League (NL) and the American League (AL), in 1903. He was, in fact, the first African-American to play in any of the major leagues since Moses Walker played for the Toronto Blue Stockings in the defunct American Association (AA) – a short-lived major league active from 1882 to 1891 – in 1884.

Robinson, 28, signed a contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers less than a week before the start of the 1947 season. He started at first base in the first game of the season against the Boston Braves at the now-demolished Ebbets Field and, in so doing, broke the so-called ‘colour line’ or ‘colour barrier’ in Major League. According to the ‘New York Times’, despite scoring the eventual go-ahead run in a 5-3 victory for the Dodgers, Robinson made an otherwise ‘uneventful’ debut. Of course, his major league debut had ramifications far beyond the self-contained world of baseball and, in hindsight, was a pivotal event in the history of the civil rights movement in the United States. Robinson would go on to win the inaugural Rookie of the Year Award in 1947 and was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962, the first year in which he became eligible.

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The ‘Miracle on Ice’ 1980

The 'Miracle on Ice' 1980  On February 22, 1980, at the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York, a young, inexperienced United States’ men’s ice hockey team defeated the Soviet Union ‘Dream Team’ in the first game of the medal round, thereby creating one of the most dramatic upsets in Olympic history.

The Soviet Union team had won gold medals at the previous four Winter Olympics and, having beaten the United States 10-3 in an exhibition match at Madison Square Garden, New York City less than two weeks earlier, were overwhelming favourites to do so once again. However, despite their lack of National Hockey League (NHL) experience, the United States’ players held their own in the first quarter, which finished 2-2, and trailed just 3-2 at the end of the second, thanks in no small part to heroics on the part of goaltender James ‘Jim’ Craig.

Approaching the halfway point in the third, and final, period, Mark Johnson took advantage of a deflected shot by David Silk to level the scores at 3-3. Less than a minute-and-a-half later, captain Michael Eruzione, who previous experience was with the Toledo Blades in the International Hockey League, scored to give the United States a 4-3 lead. Despite intense pressure in the final five minutes, the Americans refused to panic and, with Craig once again the hero of the hour, held on to win what was later dubbed ‘The Miracle on Ice’. To complete the fairy tale, two days later, the United States beat Finland to win the gold medal.

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‘The Shot Heard ’round the World’ 1951

'The Shot Heard 'round the World' 1951  Not to be confused with the shot struck by legendary golfer Gene Sarazen at the Masters Tournament in 1935, ‘The Shot Heard ’round the World’, as far as baseball is concerned, refers to a decisive home run hit by New York Giants’ outfielder Robert ‘Bobby’ Thomson at the Polo Grounds, New York City on October 3, 1951.

The New York Giants and their arch rivals, the Brooklyn Dodgers, finished the regular Major League Baseball season in 1951 with identical win-loss records, forcing a best-of-three playoff series to determine the winner of the National League Pennant. The Giants won the first game and the Dodgers the second, so the series came down to the crucial third encounter.

The game had the distinction of being the first to be televised nationally in the United States and Thomson, popularly known as ‘The Staten Island Scot’, came to the plate in the bottom of the ninth, and final, innings with the Dodgers leading 4-2. With two runners on base, Thomson faced Dodgers relief pitcher Ralph Branca and, taking advantage of the notoriously short distance to the left-field wall, hit a long fly ball into the seats in the lower deck. His three-run homer prompted commentator Russell ‘Russ’ Hodges to make the famous call, ‘The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!’, and has since achieved legendary status.

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