The structure that once stood at 215 Montague Street is gone, replaced by a commercial building anchored by Commerce Bank, but the address has earned its place in history. As the “Front Office” of the Brooklyn Dodgers it was where club President/GM Branch Rickey broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier on August 28, 1945 by signing Negro League star Jackie Robinson of the Kansas City Monarchs. While Robinson was not the number one player in the Negro Leagues at the time, Rickey chose him for his strength of character and his background as an athlete who lettered in four sports at UCLA. Robinson made his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947.
On the 50th anniversary of Robinson’s MLB debut, author Norman Mailer — who recalled living in Brooklyn Heights while finishing The Naked and the Dead at the time — told the New York Times: “He became a heroic figure because he was a protagonist…And not only that, everyone knew he was a protagonist.”
A plaque honoring Robinson and Rickey was placed on 215 Montague by the European American Bank in 1998.