On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson ran out to play first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field, breaking the long-established “gentleman’s rule” that Major League Baseball had used to keep African Americans from participating.
America was just coming out of World War II, but was still nearly 20 years from significant civil rights legislation — 10 years before Martin Luther King Jr. addressed his first national audience and seven years before Brown v. Board of Education. Jackie Robinson became a pioneer of civil rights and a breaker of barriers.
What made Branch Rickey, a devout Methodist, choose Robinson over other legendary Negro League stars? How did Humphrey Bogart and Babe Ruth add to the drama? Robinson’s role in inspiring and enlightening American society was one of the most important any athlete has played.