Survivors of 1st Jackie Robinson Game

Jackie Robinson of the Montreal Royals, making his debut in organized baseball in a game with the Jersey City, N.J. team at Jersey City, April 18, 1946, slides into third base safely in the fifth inning on teammate George Shuba’s long fly. Larry Miggins waits for the ball. With Robinson connecting for four hits, one of them a three run homer, the Royals took the game 14-1. (AP Photo/John J. Lent, File)

As most of you know, Jackie Robinson’s on-the-field crossing of the old segregation color line by race that kept identifiable blacks from playing in organized (white) baseball did not happen in 1947 when he started the NL season with the Brooklyn Dodgers. It happened a year earlier, when Robinson started the 1946 AAA International League season with the Montreal Royals in their April 18, 1946 game on the road against the home club Jersey City Giants.

If you know that much about this game, you may already also know that our SABR Larry Dierker Chapter member Larry Miggins played 3rd base for Jersey City that fine day and – was, in fact – the first defensive player ever photographed with Jackie Robinson successfully advancing to 3rd base on a fly ball in an organized baseball game.

Here’s a link to a column I wrote about Mr. Miggins and his connection to the first Jackie Robinson game back on May 17, 2011:

Connection? Did I actually say “connection?”?

Connection? Heck! Aside from Mr. Robinson himself, there were only 21 other men on this planet who played in that long overdue game in 1946 – and only three of them are still confirmed as members of the living today. In addition to our Larry Miggins, age 91, but soon to be 92 on August 20th in the summer of 2017, the two others include former Royal and Dodger Marvin Rackley, age 95, and  former JC Giant Jaime Almendro, age 89, of Puerto Rico.

Three other players carry incomplete birth records at Baseball Reference.Com and are, so far, unconfirmable as to whereabouts, living or dead. Those three players are all former JC Giants: Norman Jaeger, Phil Oates, and Russ Wein. (These three men have been accounted for through new information. Just keep reading to discover what one volunteer researcher has helped us do here.)

If anyone out there knows anything that will help us bring the survivorship accounting up-to-date for those who played in this historic game up to date, we will be most happy to credit you with your major contribution to our research here – and to the very active idea that history is always a gradient process over time when it comes to the availability of participants and other eye witnesses to any major event.

If they are available and still capable of human engagement, hopefully, someone has, or will, try to interview Rackley and Almendro in person for their impressions and observations about the game. My apologies for my own ignorance to date on what has been done or neglected in these areas previously. And, yes, it would help to get confirmation on the three current mystery status players, as well.

If it is not under way elsewhere, what we have here is – a great SABR project for drawing a more complete accurate picture on the actual date that Jackie Robinson boomed across the color line with a 4 for 5 game that also included a home run, 4 runs scored, 4 RBI, and 2 stolen bases – plus a team Montreal blow-out win of 14 to 1.

Here’s the Box Score of the 14-1 Montreal victory over Jersey City, followed by what we know of the survivorship status on each of the 22 men who played in the game:


Marv Rackley, CF 5 2 1 0 0 0 0 0
Jackie Robinson, 2B 5 4 4 4 0 0 1 2
George Shuba, LF 4 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tommy Tatum, 1B 5 2 3 1 0 0 0 0
Red Durrett, RF 5 2 2 3 0 0 2 0
Spider Jorgensen, 3B 5 1 2 3 1 1 0 0
Herman Franks, C 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Stan Breard, ss 5 1 3 1 0 0 0 0
Barney DeForge, P 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
TOTALS 39 14 15 12 1 1 3 2
Jaime Almendro, SS 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Charlie Ray, RF 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
Bobby Thomson, CF 4 0 2 0 0 0 0 0
Norman Jaeger, 1B 4 0 1 1 1 0 0 0
A. Knickerbocker, LF 4 0 1 0 1 0 0 0
Larry Miggins, 3B 4 0 2 0 0 0 0 0
Russ Wein, 2B 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Dick Bouknight, C 4 0 1 0 0 0 0 0
Warren Sandel, P (L) 1 0 1 0 1 0 0 0
Phil Oates, P 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Mel Harpuder, PH 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Hub Andrews, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
ED Kobesky, PH 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
TOTALS 35 1 8 1 3 0 0 0

Survivorship/Deceased Status for Each of the 22 Players

Marv Rackley, CF 07/25/1921
 Age 95
Jackie Robinson, 2B 01/31/1919 10/24/1972
George Shuba, LF 12/13/1924 09/29/2014
Tommy Tatum, 1B 07/16/1919 11/07/1989
Red Durrett, LF 02/03/1921 01/17/1992
Spider Jorgensen, 3B 11/03/1919 11/06/2003
Herman Franks, C 01/04/1914 03/30/2009
Stan Breard, SS 03/25/1918 04/30/1972
Barney DeForge, P 06/23/1917 12/28/1998
Jaime Almendro, SS 11/22/1927
 Age 89
Charlie Ray, RF 02/23/1920 10/06/2004
Bobby Thomson, CF 10/25/1923 08/16/2010
Norman Jaeger, 1B 10/11/1921 (CB1) * 08/18/1997  (CB1) *
Austin Knickerbocker, LF 10/15/1918 02/18/1997
Larry Miggins, 3B 08/20/1925
 Age 91
Russ Wein, 2B 09/15/1915 (CB2)* 06/23/1984  (CB2) *
Dick Bouknight, C 06/20/1919 09/01/1995
Warren Sandel, P 05/16/1921 06/12/1993
Phil Oates, P 12/29/1923 (CB3) * 10/21/1978 (CB3)  *
Mel Harpuder, PH 06/01/1919 07/05/2009
Hub Andrews, P 08/31/1922 03/11/2012
Ed Kobesky, PH 04/17/1916 02/14/1952

When this column went to publication last night, 4/4/2017, three players for the Jersey City Giants were listed with only unconfirmed years for each of their birth dates and no data at all for their current standings among the living or dead.

Much to our surprise and great appreciation, Pecan Park Eagle reader and excellent contributing researcher, Cliff Blau, was able to quickly ascertain and reasonably verify the birth and death dates of all three men, Cliff also confirmed the place of birth and death locations for each of the three men in question. That “place” data for each men is posted in the comment section by Cliff Blau.

Footnoted here to Cliff Blau’s initials are:

(CB1) * = Data collected by Cliff Blau on Norman Jaeger;

(CB2) * = Data collected by Cliff Blau on Russ Wein;

(CB3) * = Data collected by Cliff Blau on Phil Oates,


Of the 9 Montreal players who played in Jackie Robinson’s April 18, 1946 opening day game, including Robinson, only one, Marv Rackley, remains alive today.

Of the 13 home club Jersey City players who also performed in that same game, only two men, Larry Miggins and Jaime Almendro, are still living.

In total, 19 of the total 22 game participants are alive today, May 5, 2017.

Thanks again to Cliff Blau and all others who got into the spirit of wanting to help here. Small as it may seem, the demographics of Jackie Robinson’s real first game in organized baseball are a little neater ad more complete than they were 24 hours ago. And that feels good. Really good.


Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

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7 Responses to “Survivors of 1st Jackie Robinson Game”

  1. bhick6 Says:

    Couldn’t come up with the current status of your three “missing” players, Bill, but I can add to what Baseball-Reference has on the backgrounds on two of them. Russell Wein was from Detroit, Michigan, and I think he was born in 1916, rather than 1917. An article in the 12/31/1947 Ottawa Journal described him as a 31-year-old Detroit infielder. Phil Oates was from Rutherford, NC. An article in the 9/1/1946 Minneapolis Star reported his taking leave from the Millers due to the death of his father, and returning home to Rutherford.

    Bill Hickman

  2. Cliff Blau Says:

    Find-A-Grave shows a Richard Phillip Oates born 12/29/1923 who died 10/21/1978 and is buried in Rutherford, NC. That matches what Baseball-Reference shows for his given name and birth year. And his father Thomas Oates died 8/31/1946, so that’s him.

  3. Dick Lefty ONeal Says:

    Bill contact Dr Leyton Revel at I think he might help in knowing where the three are. I will be speaking at the Negro League Museum in Kansas City on 23 June.
    Lefty O’Neal

  4. Cliff Blau Says:

    I’m looking up Russell Wein in Ancestry. There is a Russell Carl Wein born in Wayne County, MI 9/5/1915, died 6/23/1984 in Gaylord, MI. He is in the Lansing city directories in 1940 and 1941, employer Lansing Senators. He was married in North Carolina in 1939. Even though the 1940 census has his occupation as driver, this must be the man we are looking for.

  5. Cliff Blau Says:

    Lastly, Norman Everett Jaeger was born 10/11/1921 in Bellmore, NY and died 8/18/1997 in Safety Harbor, FL, so there are only the three survivors.

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      Dear Cliff,

      Thanks for an outstanding job of researching and evaluating the data on the three players that began in this column as unknown to precise life and death status previously. I now plan to fill in the chart with the birth and death date data you have affirmed, with credit to you for bringing everything up-to-date. We cannot thank you enough.

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