April 13th, 2012
08:00 AM ET

Rare photos of Jackie Robinson, 65 years after his major league debut

This weekend marks the 65th anniversary of baseball legend Jackie Robinson's major league debut.  It was 1947, and he was the first black player in the major leagues - the man who broke the color barrier in America's favorite pastime. In celebration of the mark he left on history, LIFE magazine collected rare photos - some unpublished - that appeared in the magazine during the 1950s.

LIFE's Ralph Morse shot some of the images when he covered the 1955 World Series for the magazine.

“I didn’t know anything about shooting baseball. I planted myself between photographers for the New York Times and the Daily News, and when they pointed their cameras at something, I pointed mine, too," Morse recently told LIFE.

Of the first shot in the gallery, Morse said: "That camera was pointed at third base, and rigged with a foot pedal. When the crowd starting yelling about Robinson dancing off of third, I turned from whatever I’d been shooting, made sure Robinson was in the shot, and hit that pedal.”

Memories of a home run scene stealer

Some images came from the set of Robinson's biopic film, "The Jackie Robinson Story," in which Robinson played himself.

View the entire gallery on LIFE.com

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Filed under: Black in America • History • How we live • Sports
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. Intrepid

    Yes I do. Good player.

    April 15, 2012 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Richard Murphy

    Branch Rickey at the time I believe was the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers and he probably was the main reason Jackie R Robinson ever played in the majors.

    April 13, 2012 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andy Swetz

      100 percent true. Rickey was the general manager of the Dodgers. He was the one who scouted Robinson out, put him in the minor leagues in 1946 playing for Montreal, and then decided to bring him onto the Dodgers on April 15, 1947. Robinson would not have been without Branch Rickey.

      April 13, 2012 at 11:46 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Enough Already

    Am I the only one getting tired of all the black social issues–enough already. When did this become the colored news network.

    April 13, 2012 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
  4. C J Huckabee

    He was the first black player in the major leagues – the man who broke the color barrier in America's favorite pastime... unless you count the man who was really the first black player in the majors and the man who actually broke the color barrier; Moses Fleetwood Walker did it 53 years before Robinson.

    April 13, 2012 at 11:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • thomas

      63 years actually.

      But yes, Walker was the first black player in baseball's major league. The Toledo Blue Socks were made a major leage team in 1884, the last year Walker played for them.

      Who was the second black player in Major League Baseball? Welday Walker, who was Moses' brother.

      So why does Jackie Robinson still get the credit for being the "first"? Because people don't really understand history, nor do they try to do the simplest research.

      Way to go CNN, keep on misrepresenting history. I am sure the Walker family understands.

      April 16, 2012 at 9:35 am | Report abuse |
  5. Jackblob

    Lest we forget, when America wanted no part of Jackie Robinson, he was welcome in Montreal, Canada. The city of Montreal honored Jackie with a statue and his widow was there for the unveiling. Jackie is just one of many Black Americans who left for Canada. I'll never forget the story of an American WWII navy vessel that sank off Canada's east coast. There were many Black men among the crew. Civilians assisted in their rescue, took the Black sailors into their homes, nursed, fed and sheltered them. They had never experience such acceptance in all their lives. Take note, that was way back in the 1940's. Rah Canada!

    April 13, 2012 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • C J Huckabee

      ...and Robinson returned to the US when opportunity called. Playing for a minor league team in Canada isn't comparable to playing in the bigs. Maybe that is why he was willing to face what he knew he would have to face.

      April 13, 2012 at 11:16 pm | Report abuse |
      • Jackblob

        He would never have been given the opportunity to play In America if he hadn't proven himself first...in Canada.

        April 13, 2012 at 11:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • gaines williams

      so true,,,,,, i have never been treated as well as i've been treated in canada

      April 13, 2012 at 11:27 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Andy Swetz

    I just want to point out that Jackie Robinson make his major league debut on April 15, not April 13 1947. I am a sports history student at the University of Hartford and we are covering Robinson's career extensively.

    April 13, 2012 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • C J Huckabee

      And that was still 53 years after Moses Fleetwood Walker broke the color barrier in baseball.

      April 13, 2012 at 11:18 pm | Report abuse |
      • Andy Swetz

        True, baseball was integrated in the 1880's.

        April 13, 2012 at 11:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marle

      Anyone remember Satchel Paige?

      April 14, 2012 at 1:49 am | Report abuse |
  7. Marle

    Jewish baseball player Hank Greenberg displayed true sportsmanship and humanity and civility by treating Jackie Robinson with respect as a human being.

    Baseball fans were notorious for shouting out anti-Semitic expletives to Jewish players. The fans and management didn't want blacks either.

    Interestingt to see how many years for things to not change much.

    April 13, 2012 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
  8. cleareye1

    Jackie Robinson was maybe the most courageous athlete that ever played professional sports. He has always been my hero, and I'm a white guy.

    April 13, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
  9. My Name is... Not Mike

    You should probably watch the "The Jackie Robinson Story," to alleviate your confusion. It has nothing to do with his overall lifetime stats.

    April 13, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  10. moises suri

    you right. but he was one of the most important all timers i saw him but my favor the wonder cripple

    April 13, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  11. madjackdog

    Please, you really have no idea why the media, and much of America, thinks favorably of Jackie Robinson? None? I hope it's your ignorance that showing, and not the "R" word.

    April 13, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  12. sharon


    April 13, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  13. ian

    I know it's a minor detail in today's world but Jackie Robinson got his chance thanks to your neighbour to the north. thanks to a minimal background with slavery, Canada and specifically the Montreal Royals is where jackie Robinson made his name around the same time as another great in music named Oscar Peterson also got his start in Montreal.....

    April 13, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • C J Huckabee

      Actually he got his chance thanks to the Kansas City Monarchs long before he went to play for a minor league team in Canada.

      April 13, 2012 at 11:21 pm | Report abuse |
  14. jwarino

    love Jackie, Type one diabetic who thrilled the world.

    April 13, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • C J Huckabee

      and aside from being diabetic, a pretty good ball player too.

      April 13, 2012 at 11:24 pm | Report abuse |