Jackie Robinson’s Progeny

Jackie Robinson, who would have been one-hundred years old this February, stepped out of the Dodgers’ dugout and took his position at first base on April 15, 1947. He was the first African-American to play major-league baseball since the sport became restricted to whites in the 1880s. More than half of the 26,623 spectators at Ebbets Field that day were black. (An unintended consequence: the beginning of the end of the Negro Leagues.) Three decades later, 19% of MLB players were black.

African-Americans constitute 14% of the U.S. population; today, they make up just 8% of the MLB rosters. (Only 3% of pitchers.) By contrast, 74% of NBA players are black; in the NFL it’s 60%, even soccer’s 10% exceeds MLB.

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Jackie Robinson’s $36 Million Contract

Jackie Robinson shakes Branch Rickey's hand after signing his 1948 contract. February 12, 1948 New York City, New York, USA
Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey after signing contract.

Jackie Robinson signed his original contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. His rookie salary was $5,000 – the equivalent of $55,000 today. (The minimum major-league salary in 2016 is $507,500.)

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