When Robinson took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947, he changed the game and athletics forever.
His courage and perseverance to overcome the hatred of racial bigotry set the stage for minorities in other sports to have opportunities once routinely denied them.
"He was a helluva ballplayer who could do about anything on the ball field," said (Ray) Hathaway, a pitcher (and former teammate of Robinson's on the Montreal Dodgers in '46).
"He didn't have any trouble with his teammates, but every once in awhile there were some nasty remarks from the fans or the other team."
When Dodgers owner Branch Rickey signed Robinson, he hurled epithets and slurs against the ballplayer to test Robinson's ability to take abuse without retaliating.
Hathaway saw evidence that Robinson understood the importance of not responding to hecklers.
"He handled it like a true gentleman," said Hathaway, [..] "He ignored all the remarks and insults. I can't imagine what he was feeling on the inside, but on the outside he was strong enough that he would never show that those people could get to him. He had courage (in abundance)."