“We are the ship, all else is the sea”, is a quote from Hall of Fame Negro League pitcher Andrew “Rube” Foster. Founder of the Negro National League (NNL) in 1920, Foster saw Negro League baseball at that time as a ship sailing in the sea of racial segregation and discrimination with the waves keeping African Americans out of Major League baseball.
On April 15, 1947, seventeen years after his death, Foster’s ship arrived at its destination as Jackie Robinson became the first African American since before the turn of the century to play Major League baseball. Wearing Number 42 for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Robinson played first base and batted second in the team’s home opener at Ebbet’s Field against the Boston Braves.
To celebrate the day of Robinson’s debut, Major League Baseball has designated today, “Jackie Robinson Day”. All players today will wear number “42” on their uniforms.
In the midst of the events at Major League ballparks today, “Rube” Foster should be remembered. When Robinson took the field in a Dodger uniform on April 15, 1947, Foster’s vision became a reality. He formed the NNL, the first successful official Negro baseball league, to provide a structured environment for African American players to apply and develop their talents in hope it would lead someday to baseball being integrated. Robinson, discovered by the Dodgers in 1945 while he was playing Negro League baseball with the Kansas City Monarchs, was the first product of Foster’s vision.
From what Major League pitcher did “Rube” Foster get his nickname?