When rookie first baseman Jackie Robinson took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947, he was doing something no black man had done in the 20th century: playing major league baseball. Many people didn t want him there. In the days and weeks to come, fans would shower him with racist slurs; opposing players would spike him; death threats would arrive in the mail. But through it all, Jackie Robinson knew that by defying the racists, he was opening up baseball to a long line of talented young men who would come after him, men who had been denied their chance before. He would be the man at the front of the line.