April 15, 1947. The Brooklyn Dodgers insert Jackie Robinson into the lineup and baseball was forever changed. Robinson went 0-for-3 that day, scoring a run in the Dodgers 5-3 win over the Boston Braves. The next day he began a five-game hitting streak that eventually propelled him to win the Rookie of the Year award now named in his honor.
Robinson had a brief stint in the Negro Leagues before Branch Rickey signed Robinson and assigned him to the Montreal Royals of the International League. His team went 100-54 in 1946, taking down the New York Yankees affiliate Newark Bears in the semifinals and the Cincinnati Reds affiliate Syracuse Chiefs for the IL championship. Not a bad start to his career.
That season, Robinson not only led the team in batting average but the entire International League with a .349 mark. The same went for on-base percentage (.468) and stolen bases as his 40 topped the IL. He hit 25 doubles, eight triples, and three home runs all while swiping 40-of-55 stolen base attempts. He began a long trend of outstanding plate discipline, striking out 27 times and walking 92 in 553 plate appearances.
Jackie Robinson hit more doubles than times he struck out four seasons in a row, a span of over 2,600 plate appearances (115 total strikeouts in 4 years, or the equivalent of Giancarlo Stanton's week). #JackieRobinsonDay— Wayne Cavadi (@UofDWayne) April 15, 2018
He also completed his transition from shortstop to second base, which he began in spring training. He made just 10 errors, posting a .985 fielding percentage for the season. That helped lead the Royals to the best fielding percentage in the IL. I bet you are starting to see a trend, huh?
That was all he needed. Robinson began the 1947 season with that 0-fer and the rest is history. Albeit brief, Robinson left a mark on International League lure with a season to be remembered in Montreal.