Jackie Robinson started 151 games at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, including his historic debut on April 15 of that season.
In his 1972 autobiography, “I Never Had It Made”, he recalled what it had felt like to stand alone at that position, the first and only black player in Major League Baseball at the time.
“I had to fight hard against loneliness, abuse, and the knowledge that any mistake I made would be magnified because I was the only black man out there,” Robinson wrote. “I had to fight hard to become ‘just another guy.’ I had to deny my true fighting spirit so that the ‘noble experiment’ could succeed. … But I never cared about acceptance as much as I cared about respect.”
Friday is the eighth annual Jackie Robinson Day throughout the Majors, marking the 64th anniversary of the day baseball’s color barrier was broken. If only Robinson could see the respect now. MLB is commemorating this year’s special day with the launch of the new IAM42.com online campaign, multiple events, and, once again, all players and on-field personnel wearing the No. 42. It is the same number Robinson wore for Brooklyn from 1947-56.