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Northstate Man Played Alongside Jackie Robinson

Published On: Apr 16 2013 02:06:23 PM CDT   Updated On: Apr 16 2013 02:10:07 PM CDT
Jackie Robinson photo
REDDING, Calif. -

Major League Baseball marked Jackie Robinson Day Monday.  Every player in MLB wore Robinson's #42 in his honor.

It was 66 years ago that Jackie Robinson made his major league debut.  What many people don't realize is that former Northstate resident Joe Hatten was on the mound for the Dodgers.

Hatten later worked as a mailman in Redding.  He was the starting pitcher for the Dodgers on the day Robinson started his MLB career on April 15, 1947.  Hatten's family shared some photos from the Dodgers during that time.

Joe Hatten died in 1988.   He's buried in Shingletown.  He told his family the Dodgers as a team supported Jackie, with a couple of exceptions. 

In almost all team photos with Robinson, pitcher Dixie Walker refused to look directly at the camera.  By many accounts, including the new movie "42" Walker led a failed revolt, protesting Robinson's presence on the team.
One photo showed the night of a team banquet.  The players sat up on the dais with the wives down below.  Joe Hatton's wife Zanette and Rachel Robinson are seen at a table with two empty chairs.

Hatten's daughter-in-law Sylvia described what happened.

"Pee Wee Reese's wife, and Joe's wife, my mother-in-law, are sitting there with some other wives, and when Rachel came in and sat down, the 2 wives to the right of her got up and walked clear across the banquet room," said Sylvia.   "And according to her, you could have heard a pin drop, that everybody was appalled that this happened, and the other wives were scolded by their husbands afterward, saying 'don't you ever try something like that,' and of course they wouldn't. They liked and admired Rachel."

Sylvia wants to see the movie.."42" to check its accuracy.  She wants to see if her late father-in-law is on the mound for Jackie's first game.  Hatten was a left-hander, number 19.

Hatten went on to play seven years in Major League Baseball with the Dodgers and Cubs from 1946-1952.