Today Major League Baseball celebrates the 65th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s first game as a Brooklyn Dodger. Continuing a tradition begun in 2007, all uniformed personnel in the league wear Robinson’s number 42. Branch Rickey (soon to be played by Harrison Ford in an upcoming movie) was the Dodgers’ General Manager who broke the color barrier in place since the 1880’s by offering Robinson a place on the team. Robinson was a star player who helped take the team to six World Series and one championship. He won the first Rookie of the Year award and was the first African-American to win MVP. While many of his teammates were supportive, others on the team and in the stands were not, and Robinson was subjected to bigotry and racism. He handled an unimaginably difficult situation with grace and courage and after his baseball career continued to be a pioneer in business.
Robinson starred in the movie version of his own story, with Ruby Dee as his wife, and it is well worth watching, as is the made for television film The Court Martial of Jackie Robinson, about his experiences in the segregated military, where he refused to sit in the back of a bus. This time, Ruby Dee played his mother.