Opening Day was a little different for the Boston Braves in 1950.
Sam Jethroe became the first African-American to play for the Braves when he took the field against the New York Giants at the Polo Grounds on April 18.
Jethroe, who had spent several years in the Negro Leagues prior to joining Boston, went 2-for-4 in his first game that day and he also hit a two-run homer for the Braves as they won 11-4.
Although he didn’t steal a base in the contest, Jethroe would swipe a lot the rest of the season. The switch-hitter led lead the National League with 35 stolen bases on his way to the 1950 Rookie of the Year award. He would lead the league again with 35 stolen bases in 1951.
Jethroe would play in just four seasons in the major leagues. He was with the Braves from 1950-52. After a season in the minors, he returned to the National League with the Pittsburgh Pirates for two games and his career in the majors was over.
One player in the game, who had a lot of time on the field ahead of him, was lefty Warren Spahn. Spahn picked up the win for the Braves with a complete game as he scattered eight hits with six strikeouts.
After playing for the Braves in 1942, Spahn served in the armed forces during World War II from 1943-45. Upon his return, he remained with the Braves until 1964. Spahn retired in 1965, after playing with the New York Mets and San Francisco Giants.
A Cy Young Award winner and World Series champion with the Milwaukee Braves in 1957, Spahn eventually won 363 games in his career. The 13-time 20-game winner was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1973.