Jackie Robinson played in his first Major League Baseball game on April 15, 1947
Despite the fact that Jackie Robinson never played a game in Los Angeles and that the Brooklyn Dodgers traded him to the New York Giants after the 1956 season, even though Robinson has already retired, the Dodgers organization is unveiling a Robinson statue outside of the stadium. There is a Jackie Robinson museum that is being planned in Manhattan even though Robinson played his career in the New York City boro of Brooklyn though Robinson did play against the Giants at Manhattan’s Polo Grounds between 1947-56.
Robinson made his minor league debut in 1946 and there is one story never confirmed or denied that Robinson should have been with Brooklyn in 1946. Wally Triplett has a theory that Robinson should have been called up to the Brooklyn Dodgers during the 1946 season but Joe Tepsic got in the way. Baseball historians have splashed water on Triplett’s story but people should not be dismissive of Triplett who was one of two Negro Penn State players who desegregated Dallas’ Cotton Bowl in 1948 and was Robinson’s driver in 1947 when Robinson’s Dodgers played in Philadelphia.
Tepsic befriended Triplett in 1945 while the two played football at Penn State. In 1946, Tepsic signed a contract with Brooklyn stating he could refuse being sent down to the minor leagues. Tepsic was a struggling player with Brooklyn while Robinson was with Dodgers Triple A team in Montreal in 1946. “Jackie signed in 1945 and was sent to Montreal,” Triplett remembered. “In 1946, Leo Durocher wanted Jackie and asked Tepsic to go down to Montreal. Tepsic said no. Tepsic had signed with Brooklyn and had a clause in his contract that he could decline going to the minor leagues. He delayed Jackie until 1947, he would not go down.” According to accounts available, Tepsic’s teammates were hoping that he would accept the demotion and the team would pick up a veteran pinch hitter. There is no indication that Brooklyn would have added Robinson but Triplett said Durocher wanted Jackie. Robinson made his Major League debut on April 15, 1947. Triplett who struck up a conversation with Robinson after a game and took him home for a meal and to get away from the pressure. Triplett would make history too becoming the first Negro that was drafted by an NFL team, the Detroit Lions, to make a roster in 1949. Was Robinson’s debut delayed? It is one of History’s Mysteries.
Robinson never got a baseball job after his playing days although he did do some broadcasting.