There are plenty of stories about what Jackie Robinson went through on the field during his rookie season of 1947. He was the victim of verbal abuse, spiking and had pitches thrown at his head. There’s very little in the way of photographic evidence but one dramatic image is currently on the auction block.
The RMY Auctions Photo of the Day shows the man who broke baseball’s color barrier sprawled in the batters box, bat flying above his head as he reacts to a pitch thrown inside by Hank Behrman of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Umpire George Magerkurth points the way to first base. The 6 ¼” x 9” Acme News photo still contains the original caption attached to the back.
The incident happened in the sixth inning of Game 1 during a June 6, 1947 doubleheader at Ebbets Field, a game won by the Dodgers.
But was it intentional or was Behrman just wild?
Robinson was plunked following a two-run triple by Eddie Stanky. Perhaps Behrman was making sure Jackie couldn’t dig in. Maybe he was mad. Behrman was a bit of a playboy and his penchant for getting into trouble off the field well-known in baseball circles.
True to form, Robinson promptly stole second and scored a run. Behrman was pulled after surrendering five runs in just an inning and two-thirds of work.
Robinson and Behrman had been teammates just days earlier, but the pitcher was traded to Pittsburgh. Later that year, he was sent back to the Dodgers. His big league career was over by the end of the 1949 season.
The photo is part of RMY’s Holiday Auction, which continues through Saturday.