On Friday, April 15, while the Toronto Blue Jays take on the Oakland A’s, fans will have an opportunity to view an exhibit of artifacts assembled by the Hall that shines the spotlight on Robinson, as well as prominent Black Canadian players and teams. The display will be located in the 100 level concourse area.
“We are proud to participate in Jackie Robinson Day at the Rogers Centre,” said Jeremy Diamond, chair of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s board of directors. “The fact that this is the 75th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s major league debut makes it even more meaningful. We are excited to share our artifacts to help tell Jackie’s story, as well as the rich history of Black players and teams in our country.”
Prior to breaking Major League Baseball’s colour barrier in 1947, Robinson starred at second base for the Montreal Royals, a Brooklyn Dodgers’ Triple-A International League affiliate, in 1946. Playing his home games in a city with a reputation for racial tolerance provided Robinson with relative tranquility for half the schedule. On the field, Robinson excelled, leading the International League in batting average, walks and runs, and his performance helped propel the Royals to their first Junior World Series title.
Robinson’s tenure in Montreal is part of a long and rich history of Black players and teams in Canada that dates back to at least 1869 when the Lincoln Nine played on the diamonds of London Ontario.
That history includes trailblazers and Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductees such as:
William Galloway, who grew up in Dunnville, Ont., and played for the Woodstock Bains of the Class D Canadian League in 1899 to become the first Black Canadian to compete in organized baseball.
Jimmy Claxton,who was born in Wellington, B.C., and played for the Oakland Oaks of the Pacific Coast League in 1916. He appeared on a Zee-Nut series baseball card that same year, which made him the first Black player to be featured on a U.S.-made card in modern organized baseball.
Manny McIntyre, who was born in Devon, N.B., became the first Black Canadian to play organized baseball in the modern era when he signed a pro contract as a shortstop with the Sherbrooke Canadiens, a Class C farm team of the St. Louis Cardinals, in 1946.
Fred Thomas, who was born in Windsor, Ont., became the first Black player in the Eastern League (Class A) when he took the field for Cleveland’s Wilkes-Barre Barons farm team in 1948.
Several successful Black teams such as the Lincoln Nine of London, Saint John Royals, Amber Valley of northern Alberta, Chatham Coloured All-Stars, Montreal Black Panthers and the Broadview Buffaloes also courageously blazed a trail in provinces across Canada prior to Robinson’s tenure in Montreal.
Some of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum artifacts that will be on display at the Rogers Centre on Jackie Robinson Day will include:
-Toronto Blue Jays No. 42 base used at Exhibition Stadium in the mid-to-late 1980s to honour Robinson.
-Montreal Expos No. 42 base used on the last Jackie Robinson Day in Montreal in 2004.
-One of the Chatham Coloured All-Stars tribute jerseys worn by the Toronto Blue Jays during a game in 2001
-One of the Boston Royal Giants tribute jerseys worn by the Red Sox when they played the Blue Jays in 2002.
-Replica Montreal Royals jersey.
-Louisville Slugger Jackie Robinson replica bat with JR4 carved into knob of the bat.
-Brooklyn Dodgers 1956 National League champions bat, featuring Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe.
-Commemorative pin that highlights the Black Heritage USA 20-cent stamp that was issued August 2, 1982
-Upper Deck Jackie Robinson baseball cards. This is a nine-card set that offers highlights from Robinson’s career, including breaking the colour barrier, his MVP season and his Hall of Fame induction.
-Inductee cards of trailblazing 2021 Canadian Baseball Hall of Famers Jimmy Claxton, William Galloway, Fred Thomas and Manny McIntyre.
To purchase tickets for this special game please visit the Toronto Blue Jays ticket Office.
Located in St. Marys, Ont., the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum opens its doors for the season on May 1. It will be open Tuesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.