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Jackie Robinson made history in Jersey City 04-18-1946......
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Sunday will be the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball when he played second base for the Brooklyn Dodgers, and there are many events planned by professional baseball to commemorate the event.

Yet, go to the statue of Robinson at the Journal Square PATH Plaza and understand that it is there because this year will be the 61st anniversary of Robinson playing professional baseball with the Montreal Royals of the International League, a minor league. The statue is here because Robinson's first game in the minors was against the Jersey City Giants on April 18, 1946.

Robinson was 27 years old when he played at Roosevelt Stadium - where Society Hill is now located - and there were supposedly 50,000 people attending the game - double what the stadium could hold.

The Dodger immortal wrote about that game in his autobiography, "My Own Story," a book that many kids had their parents buy. In the book, Robinson mentioned the great reception he got from the Jersey City fans. In the third inning, his second at bat, Robinson smacked a home run over the left field fence. At his next at bat, Robinson bunted for a single and quickly stole second base, a prelude to what lay ahead in his Major League career.

Robinson went 4-for-5, hit that home run, stole two bases and racked up four RBIs, and his Royals defeated the Giants, 14-1. Dodgers General Manager Branch Rickey picked quite a ballplayer. Tougher games against better players, and more focused prejudice, would come next year.

For Jersey City, as Robinson mentioned, there was not as much concern about the score as there was the feeling that they were all a part of history, that something very important had happened in Hudson County.

Posted on: 2007/4/15 1:37
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