Nearly 70 years ago, Jack Roosevelt “Jackie” Robinson stepped foot on a Major League Baseball field and changed the world.
On April 15, 1947, second baseman Jackie Robinson made his controversial debut for the Brooklyn Dodgers, becoming the first African American to play in the MLB. Prior to Jackie’s first appearance, racial segregation was rooted so deep in professional baseball that all black players (from the 1880s to 1947) were confined to only play in the Negro Leagues.
Robinson could’ve struck out 30 times in a row during his inaugural season, been released after a few weeks, and never again stepped foot on a field — and he still would’ve been a trailblazer both for the baseball world and the rest of the world. But Jackie did much more than just strike out.
Robinson went on to have a tremendous 10-year baseball career as a six-time All-Star, earning the Rookie of the Year Award during the 1947 season, winning the National League Most Valuable Player (MVP) award in 1949, and winning the 1955 World Series championship.
After walking away from the game that he changed forever, Jackie retired in 1956 and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame just six years later in 1962.
Major League Baseball decided to retire his iconic uniform number, 42, in 1997, the first pro athlete to be so honored in any sport. The annual “Jackie Robinson Day” began on April 15, 2004.
This year, players and coaches will celebrate Jackie Robinson Day by wearing the number 42 on the field, paying tribute to Jackie’s life-changing career.
And, according to USA Today, for the first time in history, a girls’ baseball tournament will be associated with the MLB in conjunction with Jackie Robinson Day.
The inaugural Trailblazer Series will consist of roughly 100 girls, ages 16 and under, from 20 states and Canada. The tournament will begin on April 13 and end on Jackie Robinson Day.
“In memory of Jackie Robinson, Major League Baseball is committed to making our sport accessible and inclusive for all those who want to play, coach, or participate,” said MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred. “We will be proud to so do on the most meaningful date on our calendar, Jackie Robinson Day.”