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.
Watch Jackie Robinson’s Major League Debut