Jackie Robinson in 1946
Everyone knows that Jackie Robinson broke the major league color barrier in 1947 with the Brooklyn Dodgers…but where was he before that went down? Branch Rickey signed him in October, 1945, after one season with the Negro League Kansas City Monarchs; Jackie played in 1946 with the International League Montréal Royals before taking the field with the Dodgers on April 15, 1947. In 124 games for the Royals, Jackie batted .349 with three home runs and 66 RBI.
The Twitter account @Royals_46season follows Robinson’s 1946 with Montréal, beginning February 27. “Follow in real time the 1946 season of the Montréal Royals, when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in professional baseball.”
In his search for the perfect trailblazer for baseball’s integration, Branch Rickey was looking for more than just a good player.
— Montreal Royals 46(@Royals_46season) April 14, 2013
Only a handful of Twitter users are following @Royals_46season. It is an interesting look at #42′s first season under the Dodgers control, though he hadn’t yet worn a Brooklyn uniform. Nearly everyone focuses on Robinson’s rookie year in 1947, or his MVP season in 1949, or his contributions during the Dodgers’ six World Series appearances from 1947-1956. It’s nice to see some attention given to a different storyline, one that laid the foundation for his later success.
See also: The Infinite Baseball Card Set’s tribute to Robinson’s 1945 season with the Kansas City Monarchs.