On August 28, 1945 — A moment in American history takes place in Brooklyn as Branch Rickey meets with Jackie Robinson to share his plans to integrate the major leagues. During the three hour meeting, the Dodgers’ president will shout racial epithets to ‘test’ the 26 year-old ballplayer’s mettle to withstand the abuse which will come with being the first player to cross the color line this century.
Rickey asked Robinson if he could face the racial animus that he would receive from fans and other players without taking the bait and reacting angrily – a concern, given Robinson’s prior run-ins with the law while attending Pasadena City College and while in the military.
Robinson angrily replied “Are you looking for a Negro who is afraid to fight back?” To which Rickey uttered the famous words that he needed a Negro player “with guts enough not to fight back,” and someone who could “turn the other cheek” to racial antagonism.
Robinson assured Rickey that he could do so and the Dodgers general manager agreed to sign him to a $600 a month contract (which would be the equivalent to $7,860 today).
Rickey insisted that Robinson tell no one of the agreement until a formal contract was signed (scheduled for November 1, 1945), but the signing actually took place a week earlier on October 25 and a public announcement was made that same day.