SPORTS CHART OF THE DAY: Baseball’s Racial Integration Was Slow To Follow Jackie Robinson’s Lead

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On this date 64 years ago, Jackie Robinson made his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers, playing first base, and going 0-3 with a run scored.

Oh yeah, and he was the first African-American to play Major League Baseball since Moses Fleetwood Walker in 1884.

Did Robinson “break” the colour barrier or did he just put a dent in it? While the Cleveland Indians and St. Louis Browns quickly followed with Larry Doby and Hank Thompson, it would take 12 more years before Pumpsie Green debuted with the Boston Red Sox and both leagues were completely integrated.

The Red Sox are often criticised for being the last of the 16 teams (at the time) to integrate. However, they were hardly the only team dragging their heels.

Those That Followed Jackie Robinson

In the first four years after Robinson’s debut, five other teams added African-Americans. But then there was a two-year drought before another two year window saw seven more teams break their own colour barriers.

The final three teams, Phillies, Tigers, and Red Sox, did not join the rest of society until 1957, more than 10 year after Robinson. (Data via