Rothenberg: New color footage of Jackie Robinson at spring training in 1946

From SABR member Matt Rothenberg at on April 2, 2015:

Sometimes life is all about being in the right place at the right time.

For one young boy in 1946, being in the right place at the right time made him a participant in history.

As the Brooklyn Dodgers descended upon Daytona Beach for spring training that year, the team had a new player – one who would break barriers that had stood in baseball 60 years.


The Dodgers would play the Montreal Royals twice more in preseason exhibitions, with the last game on April 2 at City Island Ballpark.

Part of what happened that day has been recorded on film and will remain forever in the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s Library, as well as in the memory of George Bates.

In Florida, Robert S. Bates, George’s father, filmed some of their trip, which included parts of the April 2 game between Brooklyn and Montreal, along with a bit of the next day’s game between the Dodgers and Giants. George later donated that footage to the Hall of Fame.

The footage is significant in that it is perhaps the earliest known recording – in color, no less – of Jackie Robinson playing for Montreal. But the day held more significance for young George and his brother, Robert L. Bates. The two boys were the batboys for that game.

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Originally published: April 3, 2015. Last Updated: April 3, 2015.