Photography Source: Time Magazine
When Jackie Robinson stepped onto Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field on April 15, 1947, he not only changed the face of professional baseball in America. In ways subtle and profound ways, he changed the nation itself.
Breaking baseball’s color barrier, Robinson embarked on an odyssey that brought him renown, respect and, by all accounts, an early death, at 53, from the unimaginable stress he suffered, on and off the field, as the first black player in the major leagues.
During his 10-year MLB career, Robinson won the inaugural Rookie of the Year Award in 1947, was an All-Star for six consecutive seasons from 1949 through 1954, and won the National League Most Valuable Player Award in 1949—the first black player so honored. Robinson played in six World Series and contributed to the Dodgers' 1955 World Series championship.
In 1997, MLB retired his uniform number 42 across all major league teams; he was the first professional athlete in any sport to be so honored. MLB also adopted a new annual tradition, "Jackie Robinson Day", for the first time on April 15, 2004, on which every player on every team wears No. 42.