Jackie Robinson Signing With the Brooklyn Dodgers



Jackie Robinson Shaking Branch Rickey's Hand

Post Author – Benjamin Epstein

Title – Jackie Robinson: Signing Major League Contract with Rickey

Date – February, 1948

Format – Photograph

Source – Encyclopedia Britannica 

URL – http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/media/113946/Jackie-Robinson-shaking-Branch-Rickeys-hand-after-signing-his-first

After our discussion regarding race and social structure last class I thought of this photo that I had seen during a baseball literature class last year.  In the photo, Jackie Robinson is shaking Branch Rickey’s hand as Robinson signs his contract to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers, the first time a black player is signed to a Major League Baseball team.  I am always inspired to see this photo as it is one of the most famous photos of baseball during the pre-integration/integration era.  As I perceive it, this photo depicts a very happy and enthusiastic Rickey as he knows he is purposely contradicting the social norms of the sport during the time period, while Robinson looks a little hesitant and unsure as he weighs the tradeoff of being the first pro black player in the league with higher pay and national fame, with the knowledge that a high percentage of the baseball fans he will come across as his team travels the country will relentlessly mock, ridicule, demean, and even assault him.  The contrast between the visual expressions exhibited by the two as well as the contrast between Robinson’s more casual attire and Rickey’s more formal attire show an already visible distinction between the two personas.  This photo is very significant in baseball due to the fact that the very signing of this contract stirred so much controversy in the sport yet led to the full integration of non-white players into the Major Leagues.




4 thoughts on “Jackie Robinson Signing With the Brooklyn Dodgers”

  1. This photo is great. I am not the biggest baseball fan, but it’s definitely more the essence of the photo that attracts me. I agree that Rickey is definitely setting a social example for both baseball organizations and a nation that was totally riding the racist wave. And Rickey seemed happy about what he was doing at the time. He could have been forced into the situation by the Dodgers Organization hypothetically, but no. Instead, he was proud and confident in his decision to sign a man that would change American baseball forever.

  2. Huge moment in history. If you’ve seen the movie 42 or have read about Jackie Robinson, one would truly learn to appreciate the courage that JR had. Despite the fact that it was baseball that he was integrating, which is technically just a game (a multi-billion dollar industrial game), but when you think about it, he really integrated African-Americans into all sports because of what he did. And now, especially since the beginning of the 21st century, sports have such a huge impact on media, that it proved what he did was even more important.

  3. Without question this picture illustrates a huge turning point not only in baseball, but also society in general. Rickey’s courage to sign Jackie Robinson made many other sport team owners comfortable with the idea of signing a black athlete, as long as he would benefit the team. I would definitely agree that the excitement on Rickey’s face makes the picture more meaningful. Although he was clearly nervous about making such a bold move, the excitement on his face and opportunity he is offering Robinson and his team outweighs the negative backlash that he knows the Dodgers organization would receive.

  4. This could be merely accidental, but I think it is a valid point to make in such an iconic and groundbreaking photograph. The angling of the photograph appears to put Jackie Robinson as the focal point of the picture while Branch Rickey plays second fiddle. In the photo, you can clearly see Jackie Robinson’s face while you can only see half of Branch Rickey’s face. Also, Robinson’s hand pictured in front of Rickey’s. This could allude to how Jackie Robinson and black baseball players were ready and willing to break in and steal the spotlight in Major League Baseball.

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