Meet THE Kid In THE Jackie Robinson Photo (Updated: Make That ‘Six Photos’)

“Imagine,” Eddie Dweck muses as he looks at The Photograph, “a kid going to a ballgame dressed in a suit and tie!”

You probably don’t know Eddie Dweck, but you’ve probably seen him before. Because of The Photograph he has a cameo role in history. But history is a defiant and elusive thing. It will tell you that The Photograph Eddie Dweck is ruminating on is one of the iconic images of Jackie Robinson just before he stepped out of that Ebbets Field dugout and into history 66 years ago today.

Except it wasn’t taken on April 15, 1947. And Mr. Dweck will also reveal to you that – albeit in the mildest sense of the word – the photograph was staged.

The kid looking at the camera, the kid Jackie Robinson seems to be looking at? Meet Eddie Dweck.

April 15, 1947

Eddie Dweck atop the Dodgers’ dugout, Ebbets Field, April 11, 1947 (C) Corbis Images

12-year old Eddie and his pal Bobby Saltzberg from the apartment building on Ocean Parkway went to the first few of their sixth grade classes, then joined Eddie’s first cousin – also named Eddie Dweck – and took the half hour subway ride to Ebbets Field. To see history? To see the Dodgers’ first game of 1947! “It wasn’t quite Opening Day,” 78-year old Eddie says. “We just wanted to be there. We were fanatics about the Dodgers. That was the whole thing. I lived, slept, died with them.”

The Dodgers’ first game of 1947 – the first one in Brooklyn anyway – wasn’t the world-changing National League opener whose anniversary we celebrate today. It was an exhibition game against the Yankees on Friday, April 11, 1947, and it drew 24,237 fans – two Eddie Dwecks and one Bobby Saltzberg among them – just 2,026 fewer than the 26,623 who did not fill the stands for the actual moment of history on a Tuesday afternoon four days later.

Having clarified history’s erroneous conflation of Robinson’s first game in a major league uniform in a major league stadium (April 11, when the photo was taken, when Robinson went hitless but drove in three runs, one on a fielder’s choice and two on sacrifice flies) and his first official Major League Game (April 15), what was that part again about the photo – a photo which nearly all the rest of us look at as we might look at an image of Abraham Lincoln in a crowd or at least Babe Ruth – what was that about it being staged? 

“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 was a kind of benign news management, as opposed to news manufacturing. There were kids trying to get to the Dodger dugout, they were hoping to get Jackie Robinson’s autograph, and the photographers simply reduced to zero the chances against them getting to their destination. “With me, it looks like he’s looking at me, that’s the interesting part. Maybe I had a long hand or something!” I asked Eddie if he ever got the autograph. “No. It looks like he’s signing something, but I don’t think anybody got an autograph, not while I was there.” But he got something better. “That picture was in The Brooklyn Eagle, and from The Brooklyn Eagle it was in Sport Magazine, and then it was in one of Jackie Robinson’s books. But, man, I was in The Brooklyn Eagle!

There was one detail that troubled Eddie Dweck. Where were his Cousin Eddie, and his pal Bobby? “I didn’t go down there myself, that’s for sure.”

Steer away from Dweck’s photographic odyssey for a moment for a larger question. Did he – the 12-year-old-from-Ocean-Parkway-he – understand what had happened? How one day baseball didn’t allow African-Americans to play in the major leagues and then that day, that day, suddenly it did? “Yes. I knew that Jackie Robinson was the first negro player to play in the major leagues. So I knew it was significant but I didn’t think of the social aspects. At twelve years old that’s not on your mind. What’s on my mind is ‘he’s going to be a great second baseman and maybe we can win a pennant.'” Here Eddie Dweck laughs. “But of course as I got older I started to realize, reading more about this, hearing about Dixie Walker and how he was against him all the time, and all the problems and how they couldn’t even put him in the same hotel sometimes, he had to be in other hotels, you realize this was Rosa Parks in baseball.”

This is where it would’ve ended, a story-and-a-half as it was. But then last Monday, Eddie Dweck phoned me and in his voice I could hear a touch of the excitement that must have been felt by his 12-year old self. “Keith, there’s another photograph!”

Eddie was in last Sunday’s New York Times.

Per The New York Times: "The trailblazer Jackie Robinson in an Ebbets Field dugout in 1947 with members of the Brooklyn Dodgers." For some reason they left out Eddie (C) 2013 The New York Times

Per caption, New York Times Magazine 4/7/13: “The trailblazer Jackie Robinson in an Ebbets Field dugout in 1947 with members of the Brooklyn Dodgers.” For some reason they didn’t identify first basemen Ed Stevens and Howie Schultz or coaches Clyde Sukeforth, Jake Pitler and Ray Blades (surrounding Robinson). Or Eddie Dweck. (C) 2013 The New York Times

Oh, for crying out loud!

The New York Times Magazine review of the new Jackie Robinson movie “42” showed another photograph from April 11, 1947. Sure enough, almost dead center, same suit, same sweater, but this time just above and to the left of the beaming Robinson shaking hands with the Dodgers’ acting manager Clyde Sukeforth, there, again, is Eddie Dweck.

“I hadn’t seen that one before!” Apparently The Times had never printed it before, either. But there was more. “I found Bobby Salzberg! He’s next to me, in the bow tie!”

Lower left: Clyde Sukeforth. Lower right: Jackie Robinson. Upper left: Bobby Saltzberg, Eddie Dweck. (C) 2013 The New York Times

Lower left: Clyde Sukeforth. Lower right: Jackie Robinson. Upper left: Bobby Saltzberg, Eddie Dweck. (C) 2013 The New York Times

Seeing Bobby also rattled something loose in Dweck’s memory. “Now I know where my cousin Eddie was. It was Passover. He was at our seats, protecting the food! And protecting the seats, for that matter.”

Too bizarre for words, no? The unexpected thrill of getting to see yourself in a new photo in your local newspaper at age 12 in 1947, and then the again unexpected thrill of getting to see yourself in a new photo in your local newspaper at age 78 in 2013 – with both photographs from the same event?

It gets stranger still. Months into this process and a second photo having turned up and still nobody had done an image search for something as simple as “Jackie Robinson Dugout.”

Sure enough, sitting on the website Biography.Com: Dweck/Jackie Robinson Photo number three:

"Members of the Brooklyn Dodgers and their new coach pose in front of their dugout before an exhibition game with the New York Yankees. The team has a new manager and new Negro star player from Montreal, Jackie Robinson."

Original caption, source unknown: “Members of the Brooklyn Dodgers and their new coach pose in front of their dugout before an exhibition game with the New York Yankees. The team has a new manager and new Negro star player from Montreal, Jackie Robinson.” It also had a great fan, Eddie Dweck. Look to the left of the biggest guy, first baseman Howie Schultz.

Eddie Dweck wasn’t kidding when he said there were a hundred photographers on the field clamoring for photographs of Robinson in the dugout. And there is a certain poignance in these two images that Eddie – clearly the Zelig of Robinson’s first day of Ebbets Field – hadn’t seen before. In this third shot, he and Bobby are positioned around the only other two players in the pictures: Ed Stevens and Howie Schultz:

(L to R) Bobby Saltzberg, Ed Stevens, Eddie Dweck, Howie Schultz.

(L to R) Bobby Saltzberg, Ed Stevens, Eddie Dweck, Howie Schultz.

Ed Stevens and Howie Schultz were the first basemen who would be displaced by Robinson.

It had been Schultz who had worked with Robinson throughout spring training to adapt to that position – which Robinson had never played before – even though Schultz knew it would probably cost him his job. Robinson, Branch Rickey, Sukeforth, Pee Wee Reese, even the walkout-threatening Dixie Walker got the headlines. But Schultz and Stevens simply uncomplainingly gave way to the better man.

At the moment the photographers captured them and Eddie and Bobby, Stevens and Schultz had exactly seven more games left between them as Dodgers, and only 375 more games left as big leaguers. Stevens would be sent out to the minors before Robinson would make his official debut the following Tuesday, and Schultz would linger as Robinson’s sub and instructor until he was sold to the Phillies on May 10th. He would have a little more time in the sun (and in sports integration history) as a member of the 1952 NBA Champion Minneapolis Lakers, who won the first Finals ever to feature an African-American player, Sweetwater Clifton of the Knicks.

On the other side of Robinson (shaking Robinson’s hand in the Times shot) is Clyde Sukeforth, who had just taken over as acting manager after the suspension of Leo Durocher. Sukeforth – who helped to scout Robinson for the Dodgers originally – would manage Robby’s first game, and win it, and his second, and win that one, too. Those would be his only games as a manager, and his only other imprint in baseball history would be as the Dodger bullpen coach who in the 9th inning of the third game of the 1951 National League special playoffs against the Giants infamously led manager Chuck Dressen to conclude that Ralph Branca was his best asset to face Bobby Thomson because the other pitcher whose warm-up he was supervising, Carl Erskine, was “bouncing his curve.”

Thus the memories the autograph photo evokes are not all happy ones. When I pointed out to Eddie that apart from him and Robinson the image also shows Branca, he said he cried all day after Branca gave up Thomson’s home run four years later. Shortly after that Dweck actually attended one of the famous Dodger tryout camps at Vero Beach (“No expenses paid,” he laughs. “I’ll pay you to play. Such was the devotion”) but did not cross paths with Robinson there. And within a decade the Dodgers would prove that an African-American was like any other player in baseball: he could be unceremoniously dumped no matter what his contributions to team or time. And as they traded Robinson to the hated New York Giants, they were already negotiating for the event that would prove that a Brooklyn fan was like any other in sport: he could be unceremoniously dumped if a better deal loomed westward. “When they did leave, I lost total interest. I didn’t follow them to Los Angeles. Even baseball in general, I kinda got turned off. It really hurt me.”

In some indirect way, it hurt him to the degree that until last month, he hadn’t owned a copy of The Photograph since that edition of The Brooklyn Eagle came out. That is even stranger when you consider what Eddie Dweck does for a living. Today he is the with-it, energetic co-proprietor of Studio 57 Fine Arts on West 57th Street in New York, and can use the photograph to prove to doubters that he wasn’t in diapers in 1947. The gallery features not just high end art and some of the metropolitan area’s avant-garde painters, but has also always offered a great supply of historical baseball photographs, many of which are at the level of sophistication and eccentricity of a shot of Babe Ruth pitching for the Yankees and a variety of shots of Dweck’s beloved Ebbets Field. More over, I’ve been one of his customers since 1997 and last January was the first time he ever mentioned that it was him in the Robinson/Fans photograph.

“Well,” Eddie Dweck says with a measure of contemplation that dissolves into a laugh. “You didn’t ask.”

Eddie Dweck holds a copy "the photograph" at Studio 57 Fine Arts Gallery, March 2013

Eddie Dweck holds a copy of “The Photograph” at Studio 57 Fine Arts gallery, March 2013

UPDATE: 11:00 AM EDT April 15: It’s a torrent! It’s an avalanche!

Courtesy of the impeccable Bill Francis at the Baseball Hall of Fame, there are three more photos in the library files in Cooperstown of Eddie Dweck during the photographers’ flashbulb frenzy.

He may have only seen himself in The Brooklyn Eagle on that next day (April 12) but he was also in The New York Post:EddieNYPost
That’d be Eddie, dead-center, reaching down towards Jackie. Obviously this is a photocopy or a microfiche print-out. The original credit goes to The Associated Press.

And he made it on the right side of another image from Acme Telephotos, which was printed in the April 12 edition of Upstate New York’s Binghamton News:


And then there’s one more shot with Howie Schultz, et al, in The Brooklyn Eagle.EddieEagleThis would be one to get the original of.

Eddie Dweck (on the right) and his pal Bobby are lined up perfectly to frame Jackie Robinson.



  1. ShoeBeDoBeDo

    What a story, and what wonderful memories! Keith, between you, and Anthony Bourdain’s new show premiering, and Mad Men off to a roaring start, I am one happy lady. I always learn something on your blog. Please, keep up the good work. 🙂

  2. Mary Caruso

    Ah History. I love to read and hear about how things were BMT (before my time). It gives one a sense of how it was and the nuances surrounding events that changed history even though the participants had no clue of its’ significance, but later on, made a monumental difference. Things change and they evolve, people learn through gritted teeth that things cannot stay the same but must move forward. Things grow, expand, age gracefully but they still change. This was a prodigious glimpse into what it was like back then, to be in the presence of greatness, not knowing that this was the beginning of something huge. It was so fortunate to have it captured in pictures, to allow the memories to flood back in and remind oneself of that special moment. One can actually say Eddie Dweck was the first to photobomb Jackie Robinson on that monumental day, the first in historic proportion. Thank you for a wonderful expose of the past. Let’s celebrate the liberation and be thankful of the man who ushered in a new era in baseball. Happy Jackie Robinson day to you, good sir. 🙂

    • patriciaellynpowell

      Speaking of history…wait until that Uberfan takes a look at this! She has been hoping and praying for a review of the movie, and this is close! Same ballpark, ya know? So happy!

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  4. Marcel Dugas

    Great piece KO. The part about Howie Schultz who taught Jackie 1st base to his own detriment was of particular interest to me. I’ve been researching Robinson’s 1946 season with the Montreal Royals (I’m Tweeting about it at @Royals_46season for those who are interested) and the same thing happened during that training camp. A gentleman by the name of Lou Rochelli (a Texan no less), who was one of the top candidates for the second base position, helped Jackie make the transition from SS to second, thus helping Robinson get the job over him. They are unsung heroes of baseball’s integration.

  5. Pingback: Daily Roundup: April 15 | The Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism
  6. SamYanksGiantsMets

    This was a great essay Keith! The definitive book on Jackie Robinson is _Opening Day_ by Jonathan Eig which I’m sure Keith has read. Unfortunately my memory is so bad I’ve forgotten most of the amazing things I read in the book. So I can’t remember if Eig wrote about this– but it seems to be “breaking news.” Since I’m a fan of old movies one thing that stands out for me is Leo Durocher being suspended. He had just married the beautiful actress Laraine Day, who had had a divorce. Powerful Catholic groups were going to arrange a boycott. I think the official reason for Durocher’s suspension was something else. But it’s somewhat ironic, or tragic: in 1947 Jackie Robinson is making history by breaking the color barrier, and while there are no boycotts on account of race (though plenty of behind-the-scenes attempts to keep him off the team, plus the racist name-calling of people like Ben Chapman, manager of the Phillies) there would have been a boycott against Durocher because he married a divorced woman.

  7. vercmj

    What a great story by a great storyteller! I hope something works out so you can be back on a major TV network soon. I miss you.

  8. patriciaellynpowell

    Thank you, Sandy, just in case. Mr. Olbermann, this is one of your finest! It takes all those loose ends of a single picture’s saga and puts them back on the baseball bolt! I just love it. Connecting threads and and sewing a seamless blog, you’ve taken us (once again) out to the ball game! Nice to meet ya, Mr. Eddie Dweck! You are so right about Mr. Robinson being the Rosa Parks of baseball! What a champ he was! Thanks for dangling down over time to make us all feel like we were there that day…Rosa Parks…what larks!

  9. Wiles, Tim

    Keith, Your post reminded me of the attached photo. Clearly taken at the Hall of Fame game in Cooperstown’s Doubleday Field. off the top of my head, I think it was 1951. We have no identification for the kid in the photo. I have always assumed that it was a Cooperstown kid, and thought it was cool that just four or five years earlier, such photos were not possible due to social convention. I have tried to find out locally who he is, to no avail. I did have a cool experience last year, when a woman came in and described this photo, and I produced a copy of it. She said it was her late husband, and waxed rhapsodic about finding the photo again, after it had been lost for years. I wrote the guy’s name down, and have it somewhere, but what bothered me about the otherwise miraculous interaction was her insistence that the photo was taken at Ebbets Field, which it clearly wasn’t. But when her husband told her the story, he always talked about it having been taken in Brooklyn. She didn’t know him as a child, and doubts that he would have travelled to Cooperstown. That gives me just enough doubt that I haven’t blogged about the story. is this a photo you’ve researched? Best, Tim


  10. Jim Eggers

    Excellent article KO, and hope you saw the Costas show on MLB with Harrison Ford, the young man who plays JR and a hero of mine, the Newk! I am so excited to take my multi racial (African, Japanese, European American) son and grandsons to see the movie!

  11. whitaker

    Oh boo-hoo! I get so sick of superannuated Dodger fans whining about them moving to LA. If they loved their Dodgers so much, why didn’t they bother to attend the games? In the decade before they moved, with one of the most exciting collection of players ever assembled (“The Boys of Summer”, memorialized ad nauseum) they drew an average of about 14,000 a game, never more than 16,000 and change. For the first decade in LA, they drew in the low-to-mid 20,000’s always above 20,000. Hey Brooklyn guys–you were lousy fans, and you didn’t deserve to keep your team. End of story.

    • Emerson Burkett

      Gee, what tipped you off? Maybe it was; “Now I know where my cousin Eddie was. It was Passover…”.

  12. Michael Green

    What a great story! But may I add something that Mr. Olbermann MAY know? After the 1951 season, the Dodgers fired Sukeforth–somebody had to take the fall. He went to work for the Pirates and his old friend Branch Rickey. Just a couple of years later, he was scouting the Montreal Royals and saw a kid the team wasn’t playing. But he saw him in batting and fielding practice and thought he would be a superstar. It turns out the Dodgers knew it, too, and were refusing to play him in hopes that no one would see him before the annual draft. Sukeforth demanded that the Pirates draft him, and they did. The kid’s name was Clemente.

  13. pepefreeus

    Terrific article. I love little slices of baseball fan life like this.

    The Durocher-Robinson relationship has always fascinated me. Two tremendously competitive and sharp men.

    Their being on opposite sides of a heated rivalry set the stage perfectly for them to really, really hate each other (the accounts of the insults they yelled at each other from the dugouts and on the field are hilarious and just a little disturbing), but I’ve always wondered how they would have gotten along absent Leo’s defection to the Giants?

    I can see it going either way: them becoming boon pals and partners in success or finding out they were too much alike and hating each other in spite of cooperating for a common goal.

  14. Glen Pierce

    I wonder how uniform 42 was chosen for JR? I see that 18 was already used. JR wore that or 28 in college. i forget. but wondering if 42 was just randomly selected.

  15. Emerson Burkett

    OMG!!! Is there really a Moderator now? I see a couple of my posts say, “Your comment is awaiting moderation”. Well Hallelujah, what took you sooooooooo long? I would be quite happy if you take down my inappropriate posts; as long as the Trolls are removed. While you are at it, could you also remove the extremely long winded rebuttals of my friend history? It would be great if I could scroll down and enjoy all the Baseball comments. Muchos Gracias!!!

  16. britishdodger94

    Its a shame trolls have to ruin such a charming story. This was a brilliant start to my day; fabulously researched, as ever, and even sensationally-written. Great job!

    Be sure to check out my weekly Dodger blog for a British perspective on baseball –

  17. The Baseball Attic

    Mr. Olbermann,
    I just wanted to say that I am absolutely thrilled to discover this blog! I used to watch your commentaries on MSNBC while I was in grad school, often sharing the videos with my friends. I look forward to reading your thoughts and perspectives on baseball as well!

  18. Tom Dunkel

    Keith: A self-promotional footnote, but on point with JRob. I have a new book out, COLOR BLIND, about the integrated semipro team that Satchel Paige played on in N Dakota in the mid-1930s. Half black, half white and a prelude to the 1947 Dodgers. My interview with NPR and book review snippets are posted on my website: A piece of largely unknown baseball history that might interest you.

  19. Michael S. Oliphant Sr.

    I have a rare poster of Jackie Robinson posing with a young boy holding a camera…please respond…thanking you in advance….

  20. Pingback: lets play too, Theo « A Tiger Loose at the Shore
  21. Eddie dweck

    I am the other Eddie Dweck true great article I once had tape recording of Maz s HOMERUN that won the World Series on radio announcer said wrongly ART DITMAR throws it was Ralph Terry.

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