On This Day, April 11, 1947 – Jackie Robinson Plays in First Game

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Jackie Robinson and Brooklyn Dodger’s GM Branch Rickey

1947 – Jackie Robinson became the first black player in major-league history. He played in an exhibition game for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

At UCLA, Jackie became the first athlete to win varsity letters in four sports: baseball, basketball, football and track. In 1941, he was named to the All-American football team. Due to financial difficulties, he was forced to leave college, and eventually decided to enlist in the U.S. Army. After two years in the army, he had progressed to second lieutenant. Jackie’s army career was cut short when he was court-martialed in relation to his objections with incidents of racial discrimination. In the end, Jackie left the Army with an honorable discharge.

In 1945, Jackie played one season in the Negro Baseball League, traveling all over the Midwest with the Kansas City Monarchs. But greater challenges and achievements were in store for him. In 1947, Brooklyn Dodgers president Branch Rickey approached Jackie about joining the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Major Leagues had not had an African-American player since 1889, when baseball became segregated. When Jackie first donned a Brooklyn Dodger uniform, he pioneered the integration of professional athletics in America. By breaking the color barrier in baseball, the nation’s preeminent sport, he courageously challenged the deeply rooted custom of racial segregation in both the North and the South.

At the end of Robinson’s rookie season with the Brooklyn Dodgers, he had become National League Rookie of the Year with 12 homers, a league-leading 29 steals, and a .297 average. In 1949, he was selected as the NL’s Most Valuable player of the Year and also won the batting title with a .342 average that same year. As a result of his great success, Jackie was eventually inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.

 1689 – William III and Mary II were crowned as joint sovereigns of Britain. 

1783 – After receiving a copy of the provisional treaty on March 13, the U.S. Congress proclaimed a formal end to hostilities with Great Britain.

1803 – A twin-screw propeller steamboat was patented by John Stevens.

1814 – Napoleon was forced to abdicate his throne. The allied European nations had marched into Paris on March 30, 1814. He was banished to the island of Elba.

1898 – U.S. President William McKinley asked Congress for a declaration of war with Spain.

1899 – The treaty ending the Spanish-American War was declared in effect.

1921 – Iowa became the first state to impose a cigarette tax.

1921 – The first live sports event on radio took place this day on KDKA Radio. The event was a boxing match between Johnny Ray and Johnny Dundee.

1940 – Andrew Ponzi set a world’s record in a New York pocket billiards tournament when he ran 127 balls straight.

1945 – U.S. troops reached the Elbe River in Germany.

1945 – During World War II, American soldiers liberated the Nazi concentration camp of Buchenwald in Germany.

1951U.S. President Harry Truman fired General Douglas MacArthur as head of United Nations forces in Korea.

1968U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed the 1968 Civil Rights Act.

1970Apollo 13 blasted off on a mission to the moon that was disrupted when an explosion crippled the spacecraft. The astronauts did return safely.

1974 – The Judiciary committee subpoenas U.S. President Richard Nixon to produce tapes for impeachment inquiry.

1980 – The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued regulations specifically prohibiting sexual harassment of workers by supervisors.

1981U.S. President Ronald Reagan returned to the White House from the hospital after recovering from an assassination attempt on March 30.

1986 – Kellogg’s stopped giving tours of its breakfast-food plant. The reason for the end of the 80-year tradition was said to be that company secrets were at risk due to spies from other cereal companies. 

Sources: on-this-day.com; Jackierobinson.com