His general manager had made the announcement to the press just four days earlier: Jackie Robinson’s contract had been purchased from the Brooklyn Dodgers’ minor league affiliate in Montreal. Branch Rickey had seen all he needed to see of Robinson’s ability but it would be important to get him on the field in a Dodgers uniform prior to the team’s opening game on Tuesday, April 15, 1947.
Now, a photo of the trailblazing infielder playing in his final tune-up before that historic day is on the auction block.
Photographer Harry Hirsch was working the game that day. His photo of Robinson wearing the Dodgers uniform and fielding a pickoff throw at his new position of first base would be sent across the country. The caption on the back described the image, reading in part:
“Jackie Robinson, first baseman, Negro Star, just obtained by the Dodgers from Montreal, takes the throw from pitcher Taylor.”
Now, a surviving original example of that International News image is up for sale in RMY Auctions’ November catalog.
Still carrying the original paper caption on the back, the 6 1/2″ x 8 1/2″ photo is dated April 13, 1947. That was the date of the third and final exhibition game between the Yankees and Dodgers. That weekend, the Ebbets Field crowds had seen Robinson offer a glimpse of the skills that would make him the National League Rookie of the Year. He drove in five runs during the three games while playing virtually flawless defense at first base, despite moving from second base at the start of spring training.
The photo helps bridge gap between time Robinson was quietly signed to a Dodgers contract and the much documented day of his historic debut.
It’s one of nearly 500 photos in RMY’s current auction, set to close Saturday.