On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson started a game for the Brooklyn Dodgers, becoming the first African American player in Major League Baseball. Every year on April 15th, major league baseball celebrates the event. This year a new statue of Jackie Robinson will be dedicated at Dodger Stadium.
On April 11, 1987, ceremonies honoring the 40th anniversary of Robinson’s feat were held before the Dodgers played the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium. Jackie’s wife, Rachel Robinson, was the guest of honor.
Only days earlier, on April 6, 1987, Los Angeles Dodgers General Manger Al Campanis had made controversial racial remarks during a television interview. He was fired.
Los Angeles Times staff photographer Hyungwon Kang covered the event. The photo above accompanied the Los Angeles Times Sports section story covering the Dodgers’ 5-1 win over the Giants. The Dodgers had started the season with five losses.
The Times story reported, “It was a good afternoon all around for the Dodgers, who tastefully celebrated the 40th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s breaking of baseball’s color barrier before the game and joyfully celebrated their liberation from the ranks of the winless afterward.”
In a Feb. 15, 1954, interview with The Times, Jackie Robinson called for continued progress in racial integration. On the sports front, he predicted that someday a major league baseball franchise would move to the West Coast. Below are four photos by Art Rogers taken during the interview.
In 1958, the year after Robinson retired, the Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles.
Robinson died on Oct. 24, 1972.