Saturday, April 17, 2010

Ralph Branca reflects on Jackie Robinson's April 15, 1947 debut

Brooklyn Dodger legend Ralph Branca was in New York City this week for the Sports Angels spring fundraiser, where he is Vice-Chairman of the organization that serves to support local youth sports initiatives. With Thursday's event occurring 63 years to the date of Jackie Robinson's April 15, 1947 major league debut, Branca, who won 21 games for the Dodgers in 1947, gave his recollections of being present for the historical breakthrough.

Ralph Branca with Jackie Robinson (L) and Pee Wee Reese (R).
Courtesy of
"That day, if you read the papers, basically, they didn't mention that he was breaking the color barrier," Branca said. "The papers said, Robinson went 0-3, walked, scored a run, and bunted successfully. It never mentioned that it was a great event in the history of the world. I say the world because he helped baseball number one, but also as baseball integrated, the country took a different view of blacks. It took the government seven years to pass a civil rights law, which was to the benefit of everyone, lessening our countries' prejudice. That event was great."

Branca cited the uncertainty surrounding debut as a reason for the media hesitating to label Robinson's debut as groundbreaking. The event was uncharted waters the press was still figuring out how to navigate.

"It was a strange new territory," he said. "People didn't know how to react or behave and the papers themselves didn't note it as a historic event, just as a write up of the game period."


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