The Montreal Royals were a minor league professional baseball team located in Montreal, Quebec, that existed from 1897-1917 and from 1928-60 as a member of the International League and its progenitor, the original Eastern League. The Royals are most famous as the top farm club (Class AAA beginning in 1946) of the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers from 1939 to 1960.
The team holds a unique place in baseball history as being the first major-league affiliate to break the so-called "baseball color barrier", when the Brooklyn general manager and part-owner, Branch Rickey, signed Jackie Robinson, an African-American, on October 23, 1945. Robinson played with the Royals during the 1946 season.
During that season, Robinson faced the racist resistance of his manager, Mississippian Clay Hopper, and teammates to his entrance, but soon won them over with his masterful playing (beginning with spectacular play in the opening game against the Jersey City Giants and courage facing against hostile crowds and opponents. As for his home city, he was welcomed immediately by the public, who followed his performance in that season with intense adoration. For the rest of his life, Robinson remained grateful to the people of Montreal for making the city a welcome oasis for his wife and himself during the difficult 1946 season.
Robinson then left to play for the Dodgers the following year, but not before winning the Little World series and being chased by exultant Montreal fans right to the train as he left. In Ken Burns' documentary film Baseball, the narrator quotes Sam Maltin, a stringer for the Pittsburgh Courier: "It was probably the only day in history that a black man ran from a white mob with love instead of lynching on its mind."
The Royals continued through the 1960 season. At that point, the Dodgers dropped their affiliation with the team and it folded. It was replaced in the International League by the reborn Syracuse Chiefs in 1961.
|1908-1909||James “Doc” Casey|
|1912-1914||William “Kitty” Bransfield|
|1932-1933||Walter “Doc” Gautreau|
|1937-1938||Walter “Rabbit” Maranville|
Seldom-told tale of Robinson's spring of '46: On March 4, 1946, Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier by reporting to the Montreal Royals' training camp in Sanford. Two days later, he was run.
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Jackie Robinson made minor league debut 50 years ago with Montreal Royals.(first black baseball player in white league)(Brief Article)
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