The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom
Jackie Robinson’s First Year in Major League Baseball
In 1947, Jackie Robinson (1919–1972) became the first African American to play baseball on a major league team in the modern era. After the season ended, he answered reporters' questions in this interview from the Library’s Bob Wolff Collection.
Courtesy of Bob Wolff Collection, Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division
First Reporter: Another thing about baseball fans, I mean they don't care who you are or what you are.
I mean once the season gets underway, they just go on your ability. Isn't that right?
Jackie Robinson: I found that out this year.
First Reporter: National League or American League, no matter where it is.
Jackie Robinson: I certainly found that out this year.
First Reporter: I mean they'll boo you if you make a bonehead play, and they'll give you the cheers if you—
Jackie Robinson: That's the way it's been, and especially in these past two years with Montreal and with Brooklyn they were certainly that way. Of course in Montreal and Brooklyn, I didn't seem to be able to do too much wrong. They weren't booing too much. They were very—
Second Reporter: Jackie, I have two real short questions. I wanted to ask you, and I don't think anyone here has touched on them at all. One was what about your personal relationships with the members of your own team, particularly the Southern ball players, boys from Southern birth origin? And the other thing is during the series how did you get along with the opposing players? I tried to see on the television whether they would talk to you or things along that line.
Jackie Robinson: Well, that question, the first question now, here's, maybe I can give you this example.
I went to UCLA. USC is our archrival across town. Suppose I suddenly had to go over and root for USC during a crucial game between USC and UCLA. I mean I think that's the same way that these fellows felt when they came up out of the South where they have been, they have certain things instilled in them in the South, and they had to come up all of a sudden and was pushed in with me. I mean at first they didn't know just how to take it. But after the season progressed, there was certainly no feeling at all between us, and we got along swell. So, I think that, just like I say, it's just like me going over to an opposing school and rooting for that school. I think that's the way it would have been.