Editor's note: The following is the 11th in a series of posts on
the historical record that can be tracked through U.S. coins. The
subject is the cover story of our July monthly issue.
To read other stories in the series, click here.
A nation shaped by a worldwide war would soon usher in a new era in
Jackie Robinson’s arrival in 1947 to the Brooklyn Dodgers, breaking
the modern-day “color barrier” in Major League Baseball, reflects
another national step toward equality for all.
Dodgers President and General Manager Branch Rickey selected
Robinson not only because of his talent — Robinson was a college star
before playing in the Negro Leagues — but also his character and courage.
Integration of baseball followed the integration of the American
military, often credited as one reason the stadium gates finally
opened to African-American players. Robinson’s play earned him the
inaugural Rookie of the Year award, and by July 1959, the Boston Red
Sox became the final MLB team awaiting the first African-American
addition to its roster.
In 1997, to mark the 50th anniversary of Robinson’s groundbreaking
arrival to Major League Baseball, MLB officially “retired” his jersey
number, No. 42.
That same year, a two-coin program from the U.S. Mint honored Robinson.
A silver dollar shows Robinson sliding into home plate, dust flying,
and the Jackie Robinson Foundation logo on the reverse.
A portrait of Robinson is found on the gold $5 coin’s obverse, with
a baseball serving as a canvas on the reverse for 1919–1972 (the span
of Robinson’s life) and the legend LEGACY OF COURAGE.