10th in JAWS • (61.5 Career/52.1 Peak/56.8 JAWS)
Teams: Dodgers 1947–56
Stats: .311/.409/.474 • 132 OPS+ • 1,518 H • 137 HR • 197 SB
Rankings: 6x All-Star • 6x top 5 SB • 5x top 3 OBP • 5x top 10 OPS+ • 3x led WAR
Voting/JAWS: BBWAA 1962 (1st, 77.5%)
In March 2007, just after deciding to take the plunge to move to Brooklyn and buy the apartment that a realtor friend had shown me, I stumbled across the plaque at 215 Montague St., the bygone site of the Brooklyn Dodgers’ business offices, where Branch Rickey signed Jackie Robinson to his first contract in 1945. I took my discovery of the plaque, a 5-10 minute walk away from my new home, as a sign that after 12 years in the East Village, I was making the right move. The plaque has featured in a few of my Jackie Robinson Day anniversary writings (below). After 10 years and countless walks past it, I discovered the plaque’s text had been written by Stephen Spector, father of writer/pal Jesse Spector. It was dedicated in 1998, with former Dodgers Ralph Branca and Gene Hermanski (who figures prominently in one of my favorite Robinson stories, as told by Vin Scully) in attendance.
In the Hermanski story, the team-wide wearing of the number 42 becomes an act of unity and defiance in the face of the forces attempting to keep Robinson from playing.
My Jackie Robinson Day links:
• 2010: MLB Should Step to the Plate on Jackie Robinson Day
• 2011: Remembering Jackie Robinson and the Man Who Taught Me About Him
• 2013: Reminders of Jackie Robinson’s Resonance in Brooklyn and Beyond
• 2015: Jackie Robinson’s Debut: Dodgers, and Baseball, Win on Long-Awaited Day