Breaking Barriers: 75th Anniversary of Jackie Robinson's Major League Baseball Debut, April 15, 1947

April 12, 2022

Seventy-five years ago today, on April 15, 1947, one extraordinary man took a giant step toward racial equality in America by stepping onto a baseball diamond. That man was baseball player Jackie Robinson, an African American athlete who became the first black player in major league baseball. This accomplishment was not just a testament to his athletic ability. It was a testament to his inner strength, emotional toughness, and commitment to social change. 

Number 42, Jackie Robinson, in a colorized photo from his historic debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers. (

In this collection of colorized photographs, we will take a look at Jackie Robinson’s National League baseball debut and how his personal integrity helped him push through the hate he received by being the first baseball player to break the color barrier. 

Segregated Baseball

Youthful Brooklyn Dodger's rooters and fans, reach over from behind the dugout at Ebbets field today, trying to get an autograph from Jackie Robinson, the first Negro ever to reach the Major League in this colorized photo from April of 1947. (Getty Images

In the early 1800s, baseball was catching on in the United States. By 1845, when Alexander Cartwright first published his rules for baseball for New York’s Knickerbocker Club, folks were calling baseball “America’s favorite pastime”. During this time, African American athletes played the sport. When the first professional baseball teams were formed in the 1870s, however, the majority of the players were white. There were a few African American players -- most notably Moses Fleetwood Walker, the catcher for the Toledo Blue Stockings, a minor league team -- working as a professional ballplayer. Team owners worried that attendance would suffer if there were black players on the team, so in 1887, the International League banned African American players. The sport remained segregated until 1947.