Jackie Robinson Day: How much has MLB changed?

Jackie Robinson reports to the Montreal Royals baseball club at Sanford, Fla, March 4, 1946. Robinson, who signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers on October 23, 1945, played for the Dodger farm team during the 1946 season.
AP Photo
Jackie Robinson #42 of the Brooklyn Dodgers
Jackie Robinson (42) of the Brooklyn Dodgers poses in an undated portrait.
Getty Images/MLB Photos

While most Americans associate April 15 with tax day, the baseball world fondly marks the date as Jackie Robinson Day.

Today is the 64th anniversary of Robinson's breaking of baseball's color barrier. Ceremonies will be held honoring the iconic player across Major League Baseball stadiums and players will wear his famed No. 42.

Robinson played his first major league game at Ebbets Field for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947. Roughly half of the fans in attendance that day were black.

Photos: Jackie Robinson

Sixty-four years later, the complexion of the game has changed drastically, but the percentage of black players remains low, according to the University of Central Florida's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports.

African-American players represented 9.1 percent of total players on Opening Day rosters for the 2010 season, the most recent year statistics were available. (In 1995, roughly one in five major leaguers were African-American.) Though baseball scored high marks for racial diversity in its hiring practices, the latest data indicate a steady rise among black players might be years away, the study concluded.

"Jackie Robinson's dream was to see more African-Americans playing, coaching and in the front office," said Richard Lapchick, who led the study. "It has been ironic that as the role of people of color dramatically increases regarding who runs the game, African-American players decreased for almost 15 years."

Still, at the start of the 2010 season, the total players of color were 40.2 percent - just shy of MLB's record high of 40.6 percent in the 2008 season.

After breaking the color barrier, Robinson went on to become 1947's rookie of the year and a six-time all-star.

He would later become an important voice in the civil rights movement. Robinson died in 1972.

  • Stephen Smith

    Stephen Smith is a senior editor for CBSNews.com