Today in labor history: Jackie Robinson played his first major league game


On April 11, 1947, Jackie Robinson played his first game with the Brooklyn Dodgers, becoming the first black baseball player to play in the major leagues.

A monumental civil rights struggle was undertaken on Robinson's behalf, in which the left, the Communist Party, the Young Communist League and then Daily Worker sports writer Lester Rodney, played a significant role. Paul Robeson lent his reputation and voice to the campaign.

Robinson had an outstanding career in baseball and won many awards including the Most Valuable Rookie (1947) and Most Valuable Player award (1949). In 1962, Jackie Robinson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Lester Rodney, who as sports editor for the Daily Worker from 1936 to 1958, speaking at an Oakland People's World banquet in 2006, called Robinson a "great American hero."

"Jackie Robinson changed baseball, and when you've changed baseball in this country, you've changed this country!" Rodney said.

A new Warner Brothers film called "42" is opening this weekend. It is described as "The life story of Jackie Robinson and his history-making signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers under the guidance of team executive Branch Rickey."

Watch for a review or two on

Photo: Jackie Robinson with his son at the August 28 1963 Civil Rights March, Washington, D.C.  Wikimedia Commons.



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  • St. Louis Cardinal baseball starting pitcher and standout Jaime Garcia says,"If it weren't for Jackie Robinson I wouldn't have had a chance in baseball."
    Brother Garcia voices what we all should know-when racial equality and integration prevails, we all benefit-including those who have been historically privileged(and obviously those historically shut out of the mainstream).
    The greats of the Negro Leagues, Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Cool Papa Bell, Buck O'Neil, as the latter two helped sign African American Hall of Famers Ernie Banks and Lou Brock of the Mid-West, many of whom have been great Major Leaguers, fascinating America and the world, due to the foresight of The Great Forerunner, Paul Leroy Robeson.
    The great Robeson helped to usher in much of the anti-racism, wonder, the physics, the character, the team spirit, the collective will and international humanitarianism that say, the great Latino, Roberto Clemente Walker has helped teach the world, through the National Pastime.
    The large, strong and generously kind hands of the great Clemente have shown how Black and White have to unite and fight, along with the Communists- and its Lester Rodney.

    Posted by E.E.W. Clay, 04/12/2013 1:45pm (2 years ago)

  • What fewer folks know is that Larry Doby broke the color line in Cleveland, busting it for the American League just a couple weeks after Robinson started playing for the Dodgers. Unfortunately, Bill Veeck, who brought Doby on board, never got the credit he so richly deserves for campaigning for years to knock down the ridiculous color line in baseball (by far, the most rigid of any major US sports).

    Veeck is remembered today, when remembered at all, as a type of "prankster," messing with the grand men leading baseball. He was, in fact, far more, campaigning long and hard against the ban on African American players, but for democratizing and opening up that game.

    Larry Doby had a grand career with Cleveland as a power hitting outfielder that hit for average and had a great glove, as well. Doby, and his family, became fixtures in that area, active in positive, progressive, issues until his death a few years ago.

    Posted by bruce bostick, 04/12/2013 9:52am (2 years ago)

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