American retired talk show host Larry King joined Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre to showcase Jackie Robinson's original contracts, as the City of Montreal continued its push for the return of the Expos.
The original contracts Robinson signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers and its farm club, the Montreal Royals, were presented at City Hall on Wednesday.
It marks the first time the documents have been on display in Montreal.
- Jackie Robinson's ground-breaking contract on display
- Jackie Robinson talks about playing baseball in Montreal
"I got to interview Jackie, twice," King said.
"And he told me the happiest year of his life was in 1946, which he got to spend in Montreal, Quebec. He never saw racial discrimination. He never was booed. He never was treated wrongly."
The contracts were acquired by Collectors Cafe founder and CEO Mykalai Kontilai in 2013 and valued at $36 million by Seth Kaller, an expert in American historic documents. King is an ambassador for Collectors Cafe.
Coderre saluted Robinson for opening the door to other black players in the MLB.
"He was just here for a year, but what a year," Coderre said. "We won the World Series. But it was more than that."
Kontilai is touring the documents, which have already been displayed in New York City and Toronto.
Robinson signed the contract with the Royals on Oct. 23, 1945. At the time, the team was the Dodgers' top farm club. He received a $3,500 bonus and $600 per month salary.
He finished the 1946 season as the league's batting champion and helped the Royals win the league championship for the first time since its inception.
Robinson and his wife Rachel always spoke fondly of his time in Montreal, but it was short-lived – the following year, he signed the contract with the Dodgers, officially beginning his historic first season in the MLB on April 15, 1947.
His signing helped pave the way for other black players to make the jump to the MLB. Many were already playing in all-black leagues.
Robinson had to endure the racism of fans, coaches and players alike during his career.
His No. 42 is now retired across the major leagues, and the league has held a Jackie Robinson Day every year since 2004.
After retiring from baseball in 1957, Robinson became a businessman and used his fame to play a key role in the American Civil Rights movement.
He died in 1972 after suffering a heart attack.
Those interested in seeing the documents up close can check them out Wednesday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Montreal City Hall.