Color bar in baseball ended 60 years ago

Oct. 23, 2005 at 4:33 PM

NEW YORK, Oct. 23 (UPI) -- On Oct. 23, 1945, Jackie Robinson broke the color bar in U.S. professional baseball by signing a contract with a Brooklyn Dodgers farm team.

Robinson went on to become a star as well as a pioneer during nine seasons with the Dodgers.

Dodgers President Branch Rickey bucked the culture of baseball and of a country that had just fought a war with a segregated military. Rickey told Robinson that for his first three years he would have to take all the insults thrown at him.

"To this day, I don't know how he withstood the things he did without lashing back," Hank Aaron wrote in Time Magazine in 1999. "I've been through a lot in my time, and I consider myself to be a patient man, but I know I couldn't have done what Jackie did. I don't think anybody else could have done it. Somehow, though, Jackie had the strength to suppress his instincts, to sacrifice his pride for his people."

Robinson won a string of awards from Rookie of the Year in 1947 -- his first season with the Dodgers -- to his 1962 induction as the first black player in baseball's Hall of Fame. He died on Oct. 24, 1972, 27 years and a day after signing with Rickey.

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