Jackie Robinson's legacy continues to influence Major League Baseball 75 years after he first broke the league's color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Robinson was a star from the moment he stepped on the field, excelling despite an environment of hatred and abuse from other players and fans. Baseball retired Robinson's No. 42 leaguewide in 1997, and in 2004 established Jackie Robinson Day, on which the league would honor his memory on the anniversary of his April 15, 1947, debut. Players, managers and umpires all wear No. 42 every April 15, and each team pays tribute to Robinson in its own way.
This year, the 75th anniversary of Robinson's first Opening Day, is a special one. Tributes poured in from players and teams across the sports world on one of baseball's most important days. Before we get to that, however, make sure to check out some of our best Jackie Robinson stories of the year.
Why Robinson's story still resonates: "Robinson spent his later life weaving his impact into other areas of American life. He had no intention of stopping progress at first base, and his post-baseball efforts became an extension of his Hall of Fame career, hitting the conscience of the board room, the political elite and the institutions of power, including MLB," writes Doug Glanville.
Jackie Robinson and the legacy of winning: Five decades after Robinson's death, there are currently only two Black managers in MLB. There's still a lot of work to be done in that area, writes William C. Rhoden.
How good was Robinson? He wasn't the biggest star in the Negro Leagues. Baseball wasn't even his best sport -- in fact, it might have been his seventh best. But Jackie Robinson's numbers were incredible -- perhaps more so than you might realize. David Schoenfield breaks it down. Read more.
Jackie Robinson wasn't the only candidate to break baseball's color line: Branch Rickey searched far and wide before settling on Jackie as his choice to break the color barrier, considering players like Roy Campanella, Buck Leonard, and Minnie Minoso. Read more.
In his own words ... In an excerpt from the November 1956 edition of SPORT Magazine, Robinson told Ed Fitzgerald of his mindset after winning his first World Series. Read more.
Carrying on Robinson's legacy: Just 7.2% of Major League Baseball players on 2022 Opening Day rosters are Black, down from an all-time high of 18.7% in 1981. Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson and second baseman Josh Harrison, the only Black double-play combination in the majors, talk about how they're trying to increase representation in these times. Read more.
"Jackie to Me": For the 75th anniversary of Robinson's debut, we talked to those who continue to be personally impacted and inspired by Robinson's legacy -- Oscar Robertson, Billie Jean King, Jesse Jackson, Chuck D, Willie O'Ree and more.
Every pro team's Jackie Robinson: The integration of the American sports scene didn't start or end with Robinson. Here's a list of Black or Afro-Latino athletes who integrated all-white professional teams over a momentous 20-year period. Read more.
Full Jackie Robinson Day coverage
A gift from Joey
One fan went home from the Cincinnati Reds game with a gift, and potentially a new friend. Reds first baseman Joey Votto gave a young spectator his game-worn Jackie Robinson-themed cleats with a message written on them.
Joey gave away his cleats to a young fan. 🥺— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) April 16, 2022
"Happy Jackie Robinson Day!
Joey Votto" pic.twitter.com/iII3OWlmry
Mrs. Robinson takes the field
Los Angeles had a very special guest in attendance at their game. Jackie Robinson's wife Rachel showed up to Dodgers Stadium for the festivities.
A letter from Kareem
Inspiring the next generation
Robinson's alma mater, John Muir High School in Pasadena, California, unveiled a mural of him in honor of Jackie Robinson Day.
A surprise for the Dodgers
Jackie Robinson's son David was at Dodger Stadium Friday and gave his father's old team a pregame talk. He also stopped by an elementary school to read "I am Jackie Robinson" to the students.
Jackie Robinson's son, David, is addressing the Dodgers this afternoon, on the 75th anniversary of his father breaking the color barrier. pic.twitter.com/sErYDhlmzL— Alden González (@Alden_Gonzalez) April 15, 2022
In honor of #JackieRobinsonDay, David Robinson, @DAVIDprice24 and the @PlayersAlliance stopped by Longfellow Elementary School to read "I am Jackie Robinson" to more than 500 students. pic.twitter.com/w2lYHjs6Wa— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) April 15, 2022
Multiple teams honor Jackie Robinson
The Miami Marlins were one of many MLB teams that honored Robinson on Friday. Other teams used apparel, events and more to show respect to No. 42.
In honor of the 75th Anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking baseball's color barrier, today the Braves proudly hosted a celebration event at the Jackie Robinson Boys & Girls Club in Cairo, Georgia, the birthplace of Robinson. #Jackie42 https://t.co/CnAEueCFTY pic.twitter.com/0le3E4qR7u— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) April 15, 2022
One of the last to wear 42 ...
1995 AL MVP Mo Vaughn, the last player to wear No. 42 for the Boston Red Sox, was at Fenway Park for Jackie Robinson Day.
From one Robinson to another
Pregame tributes from across baseball
Before the games started, the baseball world posted tributes to Jackie on social media, and the Los Angeles Dodgers encouraged fans to change their profile pictures to the No. 42 in honor of him.
Players unions join today to honor Jackie Robinson, multi-sport athlete, trailblazer & American icon. In the effort to perpetuate Jackie's legacy and bring about real change, we recommit ourselves to the quest for equality he so courageously pursued. #JackieRobinsonDay #Jackie42 pic.twitter.com/x2WjoraXwy— MLBPA (@MLBPA) April 15, 2022
All Glory to the Robinson Family for maintaining immaculate grace for the last 75 years. Thanks for allowing players of the Past, Present, and Future generations to fulfill this amazing dream of playing baseball. All we want is a chance! #JackieRobinsonDay— 10 (@SimplyAJ10) April 15, 2022
Tonight, we honor 1️⃣4️⃣, alongside 4️⃣2️⃣, and give a well-deserved salute to two of the game's pioneers.— Cleveland Guardians (@CleGuardians) April 15, 2022
In 1947, just three months after Jackie Robinson made his debut, Larry Doby became the first African American to play in the American League.
The rest is history.#ForTheLand pic.twitter.com/fO2meLdCSB
Happy Jackie Robinson Day ✊🏾I need a ROLL CALL! All the African American boys and girls around the United States, I'm calling on you and your leagues to flood my account today by showing your faces or team photo (no video please). Show you exist and want to play baseball! pic.twitter.com/NJBFXjCAGC— Hunter Greene (@HunterGreene17) April 15, 2022
Happy Jackie Robinson day. Thankyou 42💙💙— CountOnAG (@Amir_Garrett) April 15, 2022
Today we honor Jackie Robinson and remember the legacy and impact he had on the game of baseball. pic.twitter.com/BwCTSnWQ14— New York Mets (@Mets) April 15, 2022
Thank you, 42 pic.twitter.com/TA2linU2ZB— Minnesota Twins (@Twins) April 15, 2022
KD on Jackie
Baseball isn't the only place in which Robinson's legacy can be felt, as Kevin Durant said on Thursday.
Kevin Durant speaks on Jackie Robinson:— Nets Videos (@SNYNets) April 14, 2022
"His impact is still being felt today, especially here in Brooklyn, New York City, and places that he went through on his journey." pic.twitter.com/zk4erQrPcW