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Editor’s note: This story first appeared in The Sporting News dated June 2012, a special double issue with the cover headline “This Game We Love: 10 stories of courage, ingenuity, deceit and redemption that shaped baseball and our devotion to it.” In the issue, TSN, which had covered baseball since March 17, 1886, ranked the top 10 stories that shaped baseball and Jackie Robinson breaking MLB’s color barrier was No. 1.

Progress is measured with a calendar, not a clock. It moves slowly, maddeningly, begrudgingly, inexorably, relentlessly. And chaotically.

To say one event happens when it does because a preceding event happened when it did is to ignore the sheer coincidences of life.

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To believe in what America is today vs. what it was 70 years ago is to believe that if Jackie Robinson hadn't done what he did, then surely someone else would've.

Yet to risk that is to ignore history because if there are no headwaters, then there is no river.

What follows is hardly an all-inclusive list of accomplishments that flowed from baseball's integration. Would they have occurred if not for Jackie Robinson? Thankfully, we don't have to wonder. We can merely marvel.

1. Larry Doby makes his debut on July 5, 1947, with the American League's Cleveland Indians, pinchhitting in a 6-5 loss to the White Sox.

“Doby is the second member of his race to break into the big leagues this year,” The Sporting News wrote, “the Dodgers having broken the ice by bringing up Jackie Robinson from their Montreal farm at the start of the season.”

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A few years earlier, in the mid-1940s, Doby, who was born in South Carolina but later moved to New Jersey, was a Negro leagues all-star. Yet he saw no future in baseball.

"I never looked that far ahead because growing up in a segregated society, you couldn't have thought that was the way life was going to be,” he once said. “There was no bright spot as far as looking at baseball until Mr. Robinson got the opportunity to play in Montreal in ’46.”

But once Robinson broke into organized baseball, stars such as Doby, Satchel Paige and Monte Irvin drew scouts' and major league teams' attention.

Eleven weeks after Robinson's debut, Doby finally got his chance, but-like Robinson-he continued to face segregation in hotels and restaurants as the Indians traveled across America.

“He certainly endured a great deal of prejudice, and Larry handled it as well as anybody could handle it," former teammate Al Rosen recalled upon Doby's death in 2003. “He was a tough, hard-nosed player. It was very difficult for him. There's no doubt about that.”

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2. At 28,Jackie Robinson is named Rookie of the Year in 1947, the award's first season. Beginning in 1949, the award is given in both leagues, and …

3. In 1949, Don Newcombe of the Dodgers wins.

4. In 1950, Sam Jethroe of the Braves wins.

5. In 1951, Willie Mays of the Giants wins.

6. In 1952, Joe Black of the Dodgers wins and…

7. In 1953, Jim Gilliam of the Dodgers wins.

8. In 1966, the White Sox's Tommie Agee breaks through as American League Rookie of the Year.

9. On August 3,1948, former Negro leagues all-star Satchel Paige, 42, gets the start for the Indians, going seven innings for the win, 5-3, against the Senators.

10. Larry Doby (A.L.) joins Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe (N.L.) in the 1949 All-Star Game at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn.

11. Jackie Robinson is chosen as the 1949 National League MVP.

12. Yankees catcher Elston Howard is chosen as the 1963 American League MVP.

13. The Dodgers’ Don Newcombe wins the Cy Young Award in 1956, the first year it is presented.

14. The Negro National League disbands after the 1948 season.

15. In a 5-1 victory against the Yankees in Game 1 of the 1951 World Series, Hank Thompson, who had played only third base in the regular season, starts in right field, joining Monte Irvin (in left) and Willie Mays (in center) to make up the Giants outfield.

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16. Dodgers pitcher Joe Black gets a World Series victory against the Yankees, 4-2, in Game 1 of the 1952 Fall Classic

17. On May 12, 1955, the Cubs' Sam Jones pitches a no-hitter in a 4-0 victory over the Pirates.

18. On May 1,1969, the Astros' Don Wilson throws his second career no-hitter in a 4-0 victory over the Reds.

19. Pumpsie Green takes the field for Boston on July 21, 1959, making the Red Sox the last team in the majors to integrate. Jackie Robinson had retired two years earlier, in January 1957, with The Sporting News offering this lament: “How much greater a career it might have been if Jackie had played more baseball as a boy and had started professionally at a more normal age, no one will ever know.”

20. The Negro American League folds in 1960.

21. Jackie Robinson is inducted into the Hall of Fame with the 1962 class.

22. On April 11, 1966, Emmett Ashford umpires in the Indians’ 5-2 victory over the Senators in Washington.

Having umpired for 15 years in the minor leagues and a dozen in the Pacific Coast League, Ashford, a native of Los Angeles, was 51 when he called his first major league game and faced his first major league hurdle: getting into the ballpark for the game. With Vice President Hubert Humphrey in attendance for the the traditional American League opener in D.C., apparently the Secret Service had to be convinced that a black man was there to umpire the game, according to author Mark L. Armour's biography of former Red Sox and A.L. president Joe Cronin, the man who hired Ashford.

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Ashford's career would last only five seasons because of baseball's mandatory retirement age for umpires, but in those five years he made a mark with his umpiring flair, sprinting to his position in the field and down the lines to make fair-foul calls in the outfield, calling strikes with a signature karate-like chop and using his high-pitched voice and sense of humor to great effect.

The Sporting News wrote: “For the first time in the history of the grand old American game, baseball fans may buy a ticket to watch an umpire perform.”

“Sure, I was a showboat,” Ashford would tell The Boston Globe. “For 12 years, that was my routine in the Coast League. I couldn't change overnight, but I'm different now. I've toned myself way down.”

But, he continued, using one of his favorite lines, “I'm not exactly without color.”

23. The Twins' Jim "Mudcat” Grant records his 20th victory of the season on September 25, 1965. Grant, who went on to win 21 games that season, would later write a book titled The Black Aces, a reference to African American pitchers who won 20 games in a season.

24. In his last start of the 1968 season, the Cardinals' Bob Gibson (22-9) strikes out 11 in a complete-game 1-O victory over the Astros to lower his ERA to 1.12, the fourth-lowest in major league history.

25. In 1985, the Mets’ Dwight Gooden wins 24 games with a 1.53 ERA and 268 strikeouts to take home the N.L. Triple Crown.

26. On September 1, 1971, the Pirates field the first all-minority lineup in baseball history.

The lineup, constructed by manager Danny Murtaugh:

  1. Rennie Stennett, 2B
  2. Gene Clines, CF
  3. Roberto Clemente, RF
  4. Willie Stargell, LF
  5. Manny Sanguillen, C
  6. Dave Cash, 3B
  7. Al Oliver, 1B
  8. Jackie Hernandez, SS
  9. Dock Ellis, P

Recalling the game 40 years later, Oliver told “It really wasn't a major thing, until around the third or fourth inning, and Dave Cash was sitting next to me and one of us said, 'You know, we got all brothers out there, man.' And we kind of chuckled because it was no big deal to us. We really had no idea that history was being made.”

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The Pirates won, 10-7, before 11,278 at Three Rivers Stadium. The Sporting News' capsule account of the game included not only a mention its historic nature (“Manager Danny Murtaugh's combination of American and Latin Negroes pounded out 13 hits en route to a 10-7 victory") but also this line: “Ironically, it took six innings of strong relief by Luke Walker, a Caucasian from Texas, to quiet the Phillies.”

The next day's Philadelphia Evening Bulletin account, reported on the 40th anniversary of the game, ran under the headline, "Pirates Starters All Black” and quoted Murtaugh as saying: “When it comes to making out the lineup, I'm color blind and my athletes know it. They don't know it because I told them, but they know it because they are familiar with the way I operate.”

Recalled Oliver: “It was a good thing to hear what Danny Murtaugh said after the game, and there's not a doubt in my mind that he meant it. He could play hunches as well as any manager that I played for. ... Whether it was a hunch that night or whatever you want to call it, it was baseball history.”

A little more than a year later, on October 24, 1972, Jackie Robinson would die of a heart attack. Upon his death, The Sporting News wrote: “The top seven hitters in the National League in 1972 were Black. Twenty-three years ago, in 1949, only one Black player made the top 10 among N.L. batters. His name led all the rest: ‘Robinson, Jack R., Brooklyn, .342.' Those seven who dominated National League hitters this year got there on ability, yet they owe something to Jackie Robinson, too.”

27. On April 8, 1974, the Braves' Hank Aaron, despite receiving death threats as he neared Babe Ruth’s career record of 714 home runs, hits his 715th. Years later, former Dodgers pitcher Al Downing, who served up Aaron's record-breaking homer, would muse on his place in history, according to Sports Illustrated: “I never say ‘seven-fifteen' anymore. I now say “quarter after seven.’”

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28. In September 1976, Bill Lucas is elevated to Braves general manager by owner Ted Turner.

29. The Dodgers' Maury Wills steals 104 bases in 1962, the first time in the modern era a player surpasses 100.

30. On September 10, 1974, the Cardinals’ Lou Brock records his 105th stolen base to break Maury Wills' single-season record en route to stealing 118.

31. On August 27, 1982, the A's Rickey Henderson records four stolen bases, giving him 122 to break Lou Brock's single-season record, en route to stealing 130.

32. The Orioles' Frank Robinson hits .316 with 49 home runs and 122 RBIs to win the 1966 A.L. Triple Crown.

33. On April 8, 1975, Frank Robinson, still an active player, manages his first game with the Indians, also hitting a first-inning home run in a 5-3 victory over the Yankees. Three years later, former Indian Larry Doby would take over for ex-teammate Bob Lemon as manager of the White Sox.

34. Cito Gaston manages the Blue Jays to the 1992 World Series title.

35. Gaston and the Blue Jays repeat as World Series winners in 1993.

36. On August 11, 1994, the Padres' Tony Gwynn goes 3-for-5 in the last game before players walk out on strike to finish with a.394 batting average.

37. On the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's first game, during the Dodgers-Mets game in New York, commissioner Bud Selig makes a surprise announcement: “Number 42, from this day forward, will never again be issued by a major league club.”

Across the country, Mariners outfielder Ken Griffey Jr., a second-generation major leaguer, asked Seattle's equipment manager to transpose the numbers on his No. 24 jersey as a tribute to Robinson, whose widow, Rachel, approved the move.

At the Dodgers-Mets game in New York, President Bill Clinton noted: “Every American should give special thanks to Jackie Robinson, Branch Rickey and to all of Jackie's teammates with the Dodgers for what they did. This is a better, stronger and richer country when we all work together and give everybody a chance.”

He paused and then added: “He scored the go-ahead run that first day in the major leagues, and we've been trying to catch up with him ever since.”

38. October 5, 2001: The Giants' Barry Bonds hits his 71st and 72nd home runs, breaking Mark McGwire's single-season record, en route to hitting 73.

39. On April 15, 2007, Ken Griffey Jr. — who seeks special permission from commissioner Bud Selig — again wears No. 42.

In October 2011, during the World Series, Griffey was given the Commissioner's Historic Achievement award, and he again took the time to pay tribute to his inspiration, No. 42, Jackie Robinson.

"It's just the things that he did," Griffey said. “I mean, if he didn't play, you never know how long it's going to take for another African American to play, and would my dad have played, and would I have the love for the game if my dad didn't play?

"So he was the start of it all, for not just African Americans but everybody else to play. It was my way of respecting him for what he did, for him wearing that uniform allowed me to wear my uniform, and you have to give thanks in a certain way. It was my way of saying thank you to him for allowing that to happen.”

40. On April 15, 2009, all on-field personnel in the majors wear No. 42, the beginning of an annual salute to the man who broke baseball's color line.

41. On August 7, 2007, Barry Bonds hits his 756th home run to break Hank Aaron's career record. Bonds would finish his career with 762.

42. In 2008, the Hall of Fame unveils a new plaque for Jackie Robinson. His original plaque, reflecting Robinson's wishes to be recognized only for his playing ability, read:


BROOKLYN N.L. 1947 TO 1956


The text from the new plaque reads:



BROOKLYN, N.L., 1947-1956


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