The San Diego Padres weren’t even a team when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier, but his legacy still had an impact on the franchise.
On April 15, 1947 Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier when he become the first black man to play in a Major League Baseball game. On April 8, 1969 — over 20 years later — the San Diego Padres played their first ever game in Major League Baseball.
And while it had been that long since Jackie broke the color barrier, there were still those who opposed black men playing in the league.
But San Diego was no such franchise, and they proved that as the first ever player for the San Diego Padres was a black man, Ollie Brown.
In the 1968 expansion draft, the Padres selected Ollie Brown from the San Francisco Giants in the first round making him the first player of the franchise.
Brown was an outfielder who had already spent four seasons in the big leagues with the Giants. His best season before the Padres drafted him came in 1967 when he hit .267 with 13 home runs and 53 RBI.
But the best season of his career came in the second full season of the franchise as he slashed .292/.331/.489 with 23 home runs and 89 RBI in 1970.
He’s only spend three-and-a-half years with the Padres where he hit .272 with 52 home runs and 208 RBI, but he did spend a total of 13 years in the big leagues.
The Padres have always been a team and a fanbase that doesn’t hold a prejudice against the color of another man’s skin, and that’s something I always respect about this franchise.
While I know this article is coming out a day late, I always love Jackie Robinson Day and what it represents not just for the baseball community, but our country at-large.
The San Diego franchise may not have been around when it actually happened, but Jackie’s legacy is carried on in the Padres. Let’s all remember what Jackie did for this sport and this country and the impact it’s had on our beloved Padres.