Jackie Robinson (played with the Dodgers from 1947-56) broke the color barrier for baseball and debuted for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947 at Ebbets Field in New York, New York.
During his first season, Phillies called Robinson a “nigger” and told him “to go back to the cotton fields.” Some of his own teammates said they’d rather not play at all than play with him. Leo Durocher, the manager, had this to say:
I do not care if the guy is yellow or black, or if he has stripes like a fuckin’ zebra. I’m the manager of this team, and I say he plays. What’s more, I say he can make us all rich. And if any of you cannot use the money, I will see that you are all traded.
Robinson was a 6 time all star, won the NL MVP in 1949, won a world series in 1955, and stole home 19 times in his career. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1962. In 1997, 50 years after he broke the barrier, the number 42 was retired across MLB. Mariano Rivera is the only MLB player that still wears his number on a regular basis due to a grandfather clause.
Jim Abbott was born with one hand. He was drafted in the first round (8th overall) in the 1988 draft, and went straight into the Angels rotation the following year, winning Rookie of the Year. Two seasons later he had 18 wins, and in 1993 he threw a no-hitter against the Indians while playing for the Yankees. Teams repeatedly tested his fielding ability by bunting, but to no avail. He used his left hand to pitch the ball, field the ball, and throw the ball. Awesome.