Is everyone excited to see 42, the new film about Jackie Robinson? We definitely are, especially because 66 years ago today, Mr. Robinson officially signed to the Brooklyn Dodgers, and took to the field in an exhibition game against the Yankees!
Jackie Robinson was born in Cairo, Georgia in 1919 and began his professional baseball career with Brooklyn’s farm club, the Montreal Royals, and then came to Ebbets Field as a first baseman. The Brooklyn Dodgers signed him a few days before the start of the 1947 season, and on April 15, 1947 the team battled the Boston Braves on opening day. Though Robinson went hitless in that game, the Dodgers won 5-3. However, within two seasons, Robinson was the National League’s M.V.P.
In 1955, the Dodgers beat the Yankees to win the World Series, but by 1956 Robinson had announced his retirement, going on to be an executive at Chock Full O’ Nuts. His number, 42, was retired in 1997, though Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees is still using it. When he retires from the game this year, he will be the last MLB player to ever wear that number.
For more about New York’s sports history, check out the Bill Shannon Biographical Dictionary of New York Sports.