1947, and September 19th in particular, was a big year for Major League Baseball. In the 78 years of the league leading up to 1947, the color of your skin was a determining factor for whether or not you could play for a professional team in Major League Baseball. But just before the start of the 1947 season, the Brooklyn Dodgers broke down that color barrier and called up Jackie Robinson from their AAA affiliate (the Montreal Royals). And before a home crowd of over 26,000 fans, Robinson made his Major League debut and changed the game of baseball forever.
In his rookie campaign, Robinson hit .297 in 151 games for the Dodgers. He led the league with 29 stolen bases and scored 125 runs (a career high). His amazing rookie production helped lead his team to a World Series appearance against the Yankees. The storybook start to Robinson's career was slightly blemished when Yankees won the '47 World Series in seven games, however, Robinson’s production over the course of that infamous season would earn him a distinguished honor.
From 1940-1946, the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) selected one player from each league as the Rookie of the Year. However, this award was regional and not recognized by the league. That changed in 1947. MLB decided to take this Rookie of the Year award and make it a nationally recognized honor given to just one player in the entire league. Because of his immediate impact with the Dodgers, on September 19th, 1947, MLB awarded its first Rookie of the Year award to Jackie Robinson. So over the course of just one season, Jackie Robinson managed to desegregate America’s pastime, win the Rookie of the Year award and validate his existence and his race's existence in Major League Baseball. That is an amazing rookie performance.