When he made his 1947 debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Jackie Robinson became the first African American player in modern Major League Baseball history. However, in preparation for that debut, he played the 1946 season as a member of the Montreal Royals, the Dodgers' top minor league affiliate. Given the oppressive racism and rigid segregation of the era, his presence wasn't warmly welcomed by many White players...both opponents and fellow teammates.
On April 18, 1946, Jackie Robinson played his first game for the Royals. In his second plate appearance of the game, he hit a 3-run home run. As he rounded the bases and headed for home, the two Montreal baserunners that scored ahead of him headed straight for the dugout, rather than waiting at home plate to congratulate him, as is the custom among teammates. As this was happening, Youngstown, Ohio native George "Shotgun" Shuba was warming up in the Montreal on-deck circle. Seeing the display of disrespect by his teammates, Shuba walked toward home plate, reached his arm out, and shook Robinson's hand as he crossed the plate. Having grown up playing on racially-integrated teams in Youngstown, he naturally viewed Robinson as a fellow teammate who deserved praise for his accomplishment. For George Shuba, it was a simple act and the right thing to do, a product of his Youngstown upbringing. The large press contingent on hand for the game, however, captured the moment and reported it to a world-wide audience, instantly transforming a simple gesture of kindness into an important symbolic moment in Civil Rights history.