The photo above, in which Jackie Robinson looks bemusedly at a young autograph-seeker just before stepping onto the field and breaking baseball's color barrier on April 15, 1947, has long been one of the game's most iconic and enduring images. I mean, just look at how cute that kid is! There's only one problem with it, though. It was taken just before an exhibition game on April 11, 1947, and it was staged.
We know this thanks to Keith Olbermann, who recently caught up with the kid in the photo—Eddie Dweck, now 78 years old—and asked him to talk about what he remembered from that day:
“Staged,” he said again, and matter-of-factly. “We had maybe bleacher seats, the cheapest seats, and we trying to get to the Dodger dugout just like we tried to get to the Dodger dugout every game we went to. But there were a hundred photographers taking pictures of him. This was a momentous day. So they told the ushers ‘let these kids come down, and lean over like you’re trying to get his autograph.’ And that’s how we got down there. It was a matter of a few minutes, five minutes, ten minutes as I remember. Then we had to scatter.”
So, this isn't completely surprising, nor all that scandalous. If anything, we should give a ton of credit to the photographers who saw an opportunity to set up a great photo, and acted quickly enough to take advantage. Anyway, Olbermann's entire story about Dweck is worth a read. If you're like me, you'll get a kick out of the fact that Dweck skipped school to go to the game with his cousin, also named Eddie Dweck.