By guest blogger Bruce Solomon
Jackie Robinson made his professional debut not in Brooklyn in 1947, but 76 years ago today in Jersey City, when the Dodgers’ Triple A team, the Montreal Royals opened their minor league season in Roosevelt Stadium, the home park of the Jersey City Giants.
Mayor Hague declared Opening Day in Jersey City a holiday for city employees and school children. On April 18, 1946, Jackie Robinson, wearing a Montreal Royals jersey (#9) stepped to the plate in front of 51,837 raucous fans at the over-capacity Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City. Jackie Robinson settled in for his first official at-bat as a professional in an integrated baseball game. Nervous? Perhaps, but not for long. On a full count pitch in his first at-bat, Robinson grounded out to the shortstop. It was the only out he’d make that day. His next plate appearance was a three-run homer, and he was met at home plate with an outstretched hand by teammate George “Shotgun” Shuba – fixed in time by the famed photograph of the moment when black and white teammates saluted each other on the diamond. Robinson followed up the dinger with a bunt single, a steal of second, and ultimately a balk home after rattling the pitcher dancing down the third base line. Robinson’s final stat line was 4-5 with four RBIs in a 14-1 victory.
Click the link below for more about George Shuba.