He would face tough days ahead but Jackie Robinson’s major league debut generated profound respect from those smart enough to realize the importance of what he had done.
On April 16, 1947, the day after he played in his first regular season game at Ebbets Field, International News produced an extraordinary piece made available to newspapers across the country. Editorial in nature, the unusually lengthy prose that accompanied a posed photo of the new Brooklyn Dodger was more than just a caption. It heralded Robinson’s arrival as “a giving symbol of the defeat of prejudice.”
Now, the 5×7 photo and accompanying original copy have been uncovered and are being offered by RMY Auctions as part of a large sale that runs through August 3. Robinson’s debut was extensively covered, of course, and photos from that day are not hard to find but original archived images with accompanying text from newspaper archives are rare.
The copy includes the date and the names of the photographers (another photo is believed to have accompanied the posed image). RMY believes Arthur Sasse snapped the image of Robinson that’s part of the auction. The back of the photo carries the International News stamp.
“Whether Jackie Robinson makes good on the diamond or not, his place on the record books is safe,” reads the 72-year-old script that newspaper editors were welcome to use in conjunction with the photo.
“He was the instrument through which the American’s love of fair play and hatred of prejudice were used to smash down a barrier that never should have been erected.”