Jackie Robinson, 1957


Published:

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF THE WALTER P. REUTHER LIBRARY, WAYNE STATE UNIVERSITY.

 

1957 the brittle crack of a bat connecting with a fastball is as much a sure sign of spring as forsythia blooming and robins chirping. No matter how cold it may be, Opening Day — it’s April 5 this year as the Tigers tangle with the Yankees at Comerica Park — is a ritual for die-hard fans. Among baseball’s great players from its storied past is Jackie Robinson, pictured here at the NAACP’s national convention, held in Detroit in June 1957. A decade earlier, as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Robinson became the first African-American since the 19th century to play in the major leagues. Other teams followed suit, but it took some clubs a painfully long time; the Detroit Tigers were the penultimate team in the majors to bring a black player on board. In 1958, the Tigers signed Ozzie Virgil, who hailed from the Dominican Republic. The Boston Red Sox were the last to integrate, in 1959. Robinson, who posted a lifetime batting average of .311, retired from baseball in January 1957, but served on the board of the NAACP until 1967 and was particularly involved in the organization’s Freedom Fund drive. He also served as a vice president of the Chock Full O’ Nuts coffee company, and in 1964 co-founded the Freedom National Bank. A year before this photo was taken, Robinson was honored with the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal; in 1957, it was awarded to Martin Luther King Jr. at Ford Auditorium in Detroit. Jack Roosevelt Robinson was inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1962 and died in 1972, a quarter-century after breaking baseball’s color barrier. He was 53.

Edit Module
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

An Hour with ... Carmen Harlan

Broadcast journalist and founder of the Carmen Harlan Collection

God-Given Talent

A local choir sings its way to live television

The Sincere Storyteller

Broadway fans will soon learn, playwright Dominique Morisseau’s work is unapologetically Detroit

Do Good

The Greater Detroit Philanthropy Awards are back with eight new recipients

The Unsung Superhero

At the drawing board with Marvel illustrator, Jim Towe
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Best Dressed 2018
    Pulling back the curtain on this year’s selection of the region’s most stylish denizens
  2. Keeping Up with Sheefy McFly
    The multitalented visual artist and musician is ubiquitous in the Motor City
  3. Cocktail Recipe: Casa del Cider
  4. Designer Taste
    A quaint Ferndale shop sells exotic cheese, chocolate, and charcuterie
  5. Excellence in Care: Beaumont Health
    Hour Detroit presented Beaumont Health with an Excellence in Care Award for this extraordinary...
  6. Gathering Spot
    Eastern Market restaurant finds its groove after a rocky beginning
  7. The Way It Was
    Better Made Snack Foods, 1971
  8. Food Recipe: Barbecue Mac & Cheese
    Vast Kitchen and Bar executive chef, Jordan Gillis, upgrades the comfort staple
  9. Sanctuary for the Senses
    Castalia in Midtown offers a cocktail experience unlike any other
  10. Excellence in Care: St. Joseph Mercy Health
    Hour Detroit presented St. Joseph Mercy Health with an Excellence in Care Award for this...