In his first season in the National League, Jackie Robinson was a force against the Cardinals, especially in a key September series that secured the Dodgers’ bid to win the 1947 pennant.
Robinson broke the major-league color barrier when he batted second and played first base in the Dodgers’ 1947 season-opener on April 15 against the Braves at Brooklyn. Boxscore
The 1947 Dodgers would finish in first by five games over the defending champion Cardinals. Robinson was a big factor. In 23 games against the 1947 Cardinals, Robinson hit .309 (29-for-94) with three home runs, four steals, 11 walks and 10 RBI. His on-base percentage against St. Louis was .381.
Robinson faced the Cardinals for the first time in the regular season on Tuesday afternoon, May 6, at Brooklyn in the opener of a three-game series. Batting second and playing first base, Robinson went 2-for-5 (a pair of singles) with a run scored in the Dodgers’ 7-6 victory. Boxscore
The New York Herald Tribune reported some Cardinals players had tried to organize a strike in protest of Robinson’s presence in the major leagues. National League president Ford Frick confirmed to the Associated Press that Cardinals owner Sam Breadon had informed him there was “a movement among the Cardinals to strike in protest during their series if Robinson is in the lineup.”
“From what (Breadon) told me afterward, the trouble was smoothed over,” Frick said.
Breadon, manager Eddie Dyer and several Cardinals players, including outfielder Enos Slaughter, catcher Joe Garagiola and shortstop Marty Marion, denied knowledge of any strike plan.
“I brought the matter up with two of my leading players,” Breadon said to the Associated Press. “They never intimated that such a thing was even thought of.”
Said Dyer: “The report my club threatened a strike against Robinson is absurd. At no time, to my knowledge, did my players consider such a foolish action. They never discussed it. No one ever discussed it with them.”
Dodgers manager Burt Shotton told the United Press he didn’t believe the Cardinals had intended to strike. “I would have known about it had anything been done,” Shotton said.
Stanley Woodward, sports editor of the New York Herald Tribune, defended the accuracy of the report as “essentially right and factual.”
“The denial by Sam Breadon … is so spurious as to be beneath notice,” Woodward wrote.
Robinson’s first game at St. Louis occurred on Wednesday afternoon, May 21, in a 4-3 Dodgers victory. Robinson was 0-for-4 with a walk and a run scored. Boxscore (Robinson hit .267 in 11 games at St. Louis in 1947.)
As the season unfolded, Robinson’s impact grew in games against St. Louis.
On July 18, Robinson had three RBI, including a two-run home run off left-handed reliever Al Brazle, and two runs scored in the Dodgers’ 7-0 victory at Brooklyn. Dodgers starter Ralph Branca pitched seven perfect innings before Enos Slaughter led off the eighth with a single. Boxscore
The next day, Robinson had two hits and a steal of home, though the Cardinals won, 7-5. Boxscore
Brooklyn held a 4.5-game lead over the second-place Cardinals heading into their final series against one another, a three-game set Sept. 11-13 at St. Louis. The Cardinals knew their best chance to overcome the Dodgers was to sweep.
But Brooklyn won two of the three _ and the standout player was Robinson. He batted .462 (6-for-13) in the series.
In the opener, won by Brooklyn, 4-3, Robinson hit a two-run home run off left-handed starter Harry Brecheen. “We got the crucial ballgame,” Robinson said to the Associated Press. Boxscore
After St. Louis won the second game, 8-7, the Dodgers came back to win the finale by the same score. Robinson had three hits and a walk. But his most important play came on defense.
In the eighth inning, the Cardinals had runners on first and second with two out when second baseman Nippy Jones, seeking his eighth hit of the series, hit a pop-up that drifted toward the Dodgers dugout. Robinson reached for the ball, caught it and spilled into the dugout. Boxscore
“As I grabbed that foul, I tried to break my fall,” Robinson told The Sporting News, “but I don’t know what would have happened if Ralph Branca hadn’t tackled me.”
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