April 15, 2007
Jackie Robinson

It was sixty years ago today that Jackie Robinson officially broke the color line in baseball by making his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers. There will be much to read and learn about this remarkable man and how he changed not only the game of baseball but arguably America itself, but the most interesting story I've read so far has been this one about the man who played Wally Pipp to Robinson's Lou Gehrig.

Jackie Robinson Day's central event will take place in Los Angeles, where Robinson's widow will be on hand to see each member of the Dodgers wear Robinson's No. 42 as they take the field against the San Diego Padres.

Houston will host a smaller event -- a youth baseball clinic at Memorial Park's Andy Anderson Field, sponsored by Major League Baseball's alumni association.

One of the senior members among the former players on hand will be Ed Stevens, 82, who keeps a copy of the box score from Robinson's first game on the office wall of his southwest Houston home, alongside a picture of himself with Robinson and some of their Brooklyn Dodgers teammates that year.

Stevens spent 29 years as a scout, so he enjoys working with young talent. He has another reason, though, to remember the events of April 15, 1947.

It was the day Jackie Robinson took his job.

Stevens has had 60 years to consider the consequences of the day that Robinson's dreams came true at the expense of his dreams for a long, successful career with the Dodgers. Still, he too will pause to remember Jackie Robinson.

"Jackie Robinson, with all he accomplished, with everything he went through, he deserves this recognition," Stevens said Friday. "I was a little put out with some things that happened at the time. But he was an outstanding ballplayer. I have no qualms about honoring him."

I consider myself pretty well-read on baseball history, especially from that era, but this is a story I hadn't heard before. It's quite interesting, and I'm glad that Mr. Stevens is still with us so he can tell it. His experience adds another layer to the whole thing.

When he thinks of 1947, he recalls the abuse he endured in [his hometown of] Galveston for losing his job to a black man.

"Some of the older people wouldn't talk to me," Stevens said.

"I would even get phone calls from people asking me how it could happen. I finally had to threaten to whip some of them to get them off my back. But I never had any hard feelings or regrets toward Jackie Robinson."

It's hard to believe sometimes, but we really have come a long way.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 15, 2007 to Baseball

I saw Jackie Robinson play at Ebbitts Field compliments of the CYO. I vividly remember reading all the hype in the Daily News and Mirror prior to the 1st game. I even remember his AAA experience in Montreal (in retrospect a genius move by Branch Rickey). But most of all, I remember my fear that Jackie would be killed while playing. Thank God he showed everyone what he was made of and achieved the baseball honors cherished by the players. That being said, I hated the Dodgers in 1947; hated the O'Malleys for running away from NYC and still have no use for the Dodgers today. Maybe because I am a life long Yankee fan must have something to do with all this.

Posted by: Dud on April 15, 2007 10:35 AM

I do not trust baseball. This is all to take attention away from steroid abuse in major league baseball.

Bonds is about to break Aarons Home Run record and many are skeptical about Barry Bonds and
if he played baseball without using steroids.

I am soured in baseball

Posted by: don iarussi on April 15, 2007 12:36 PM