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Jackie Robinson

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Jackie Robinson


Personal Info
Birth January 31, 1919, Cairo, Georgia
Death: October 24, 1972, Stamford, Connecticut
Professional Career
Debut April 15, 1947, Brooklyn Dodgers vs. Boston Braves, Ebbets Field
Team(s) As Player

Brooklyn Dodgers (1947 - 1956)

HOF induction: 1962
Career Highlights

Jack Roosevelt "Jackie" Robinson (January 31, 1919 - October 24, 1972) became the first black Major League Baseball player of the modern era in 1947.[1] The Baseball Hall of Fame inducted Robinson in 1962 and he was a member of six World Series teams. Jackie earned six consecutive All-Star Game nominations and won several awards during his career. In 1947, Robinson won The Sporting News Rookie of the Year Award and the first MLB Rookie of the Year Award. Two years later, Jackie was awarded his first MVP National League MVP Award. He led the league in stolen bases in 1947 and 1949. He won the NL batting title (.342) in 1949, and led the league in 1949 in runs produced. Robinson also led the league in on-base percentage in 1952. In addition to his accomplishments on the field, Jackie Robinson was also a forerunner of the Civil Rights Movement. He was a key figure in the establishment and growth of the Freedom Bank, an African-American owned and controlled entity, in the 1960s. He also wrote a syndicated newspaper column for a number of years, in which he was an outspoken supporter of both Martin Luther King Jr. and less so Malcolm X.[2] According to library catalogs, more books have been written about Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson that any other 2 players.

Baseball Hof
Jackie Robinson
is a member of
the Baseball
Hall of Fame

Robinson actively campaigned for a number of politicians, including both Democrat Hubert Humphrey, and Republican Richard Nixon.

In recognition of his accomplishments, Robinson posthumously received a Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.[2]

On April 15, 1997, Major League Baseball retired the number 42, the number Robinson wore, in recognition of his accomplishments both on the field and off the field.[3] In 1950, he was the subject of a film biography, The Jackie Robinson Story, in which he played himself. He became a political activist in his post-playing days.

Early life Edit


In 1919, Jackie Robinson, the youngest of five children,[4] was born in Cairo, Georgia during a Spanish Flu epidemic. [5] In 1920, his family moved to Pasadena, California[5] after his father abandoned them.[6]

Growing up, he lived in relative poverty[7] and even joined a local neighborhood gang. Eventually, friend Carl Anderson persuaded Robinson to abandon the gang.[8]

In 1935, Jackie Robinson graduated from Washington Junior High School and enrolled in John Muir High School (Pasadena, California) ("Muir Tech").[9] There he played on various Muir Tech sport teams. He was a shortstop and catcher on the baseball team, a quarterback on the American football team, a guard on the basketball team, and a member of the tennis team and the track and field squad. He won awards in the broad jump.[10]

In 1936, he captured the junior boys singles championship in the annual Pacific Coast Negro Tennis Tournament, starred as quarterback, and earned a place on the annual Pomona baseball tournament all-star team, one which included future Major League Baseball Hall of Famers Ted Williams and Bob Lemon. [11] The next year, Jackie played for the high school's basketball team. That year, the Pasadena Star-News newspaper ran a piece on Jackie.[12]

After leaving Muir, Jackie attended Pasadena Junior College and played both football and baseball.[13] He played quarterback and safety for the football team, shortstop and leadoff batter for the baseball team, and participated in the broad jump.

While at PJC, he was elected to the "Lancers,” a student run police organization responsible for patrolling various school activities.[14] He dated and made friends. However, on January 25, 1938, he was arrested, the reason speculative, and sentenced to two years probation.[15]

In 1938, he was elected to the All-Southland Junior College (baseball) Team and selected as the region's Most Valuable Player.[16]

On February 4, 1939, he played his last basketball game at Pasadena Junior College Jackie then received a gold pin and was named to the school's "Order of the Mast and Dagger.”[17]

The Dodgers Edit


In the late 1940s, Branch Rickey was club president and general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers. He graduated from Ohio Wesleyan College. The Dodgers began to scout Robinson and Rickey eventually selected Jackie from a list of promising African-American players. Robinson became the first player in fifty-seven years to break the Baseball color line.

In 1946, the Dodgers assigned Jackie to the Montreal Royals. Robinson proceeded to lead the International League in batting average (.349) as well as fielding percentage (.985)[18] Because of Jackie's play in 1946, the Dodgers called him up to play for the major league club in 1947. Robinson made his Major League debut on April 15, 1947, playing first base. He went 0 for 3 against the Boston Braves, but the sport's color line had been shattered forever.

Throughout the season, Robinson experienced harassment at the hands of both players and fans. He was verbally abused by both his own teammates and by members of opposing teams. Some Dodger players insinuated they would sit out rather than play alongside Robinson. The mutiny ended when Dodger management informed those players that they were welcome to find employment elsewhere.

On April 22, 1947, during a game between the Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies, Phillies players called Jackie a "nigger" from their dugout, and yelled that he should "go back to the cotton fields! "[19] Rickey would later recall that the Phillies' manager, Ben Chapman, "did more than anybody to unite the Dodgers. When he poured out that string of unconscionable abuse, he solidified and united thirty men."[20] Baseball Commissioner Happy Chandler admonished the Phillies and asked Chapman to pose for photographs with Robinson as a conciliatory gesture.

Dodgers shortstop Pee Wee Reese, who would be a teammate of Robinson's for the better part of a decade, was one of the few players who publicly stood up for Robinson during his rookie season. During the team's first road trip, in Cincinnati, Ohio, Robinson was being heckled by fans when Reese, the Dodgers team captain, walked over and put his arm around Robinson in a gesture of support that quieted the fans and has now gained near-legendary status. In addition, the Jewish baseball star Hank Greenberg, who had faced considerable anti-Semitism earlier in his career, made a point of welcoming Robinson to the Major Leagues. Jackie Robinson was asked to be low-key in his minor league season and his first 2 major league seasons, as he admitted himself (confirmed by many sources), even though this was later denied by wife Rachel Robinson, who never remarried.

For his services, Jackie earned the major-league minimum salary of $5000—standard for many rookies at the time. That year, he played in 151 games, hit .297, led the National League in stolen bases and won the first-ever BBWAA official Rookie of the Year Award, and The Sporting News Rookie of the Year Award. In 1987, the Rookie of The Year Award was named after Jackie Robinson Award. Although Jackie played every game that season at first base, Robinson spent most of his career as a second baseman. The move to 2nd base was done in large measure to accommodate Gil Hodges' installation as a first baseman. In the 4 seasons he was a full-time 2nd baseman (1949-1952), he was voted as the top major league 2nd baseman on the Sporting News post-season All-Star team (balloting conducted by sportswriters).

Two years later, Jackie won the Most Valuable Player award for the National League. He would win his only championship ring when the Dodgers beat the New York Yankees in the 1955 World Series. After the 1956 season, Robinson's contract was sold by the Dodgers to the New York Giants. Rather than report to the Giants, Robinson chose to retire at age 37.

Robinson was a disciplined hitter and a versatile fielder. He had a .311 career batting average and substantially more walks than strikeouts and was an outstanding base stealer. No other player since World War II has stolen home more than Robinson. During his career, the Dodgers played in six World Series and Jackie played in six All-Star games. He is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame and a member of the All-Century Team. In one of his most famous quotes, he said "I'm not concerned with your liking or disliking me... all I ask is that you respect me as a human being."[21]

Post-baseball life Edit

File:JRandDavid dc march photo.jpg

Robinson retired on January 5, 1957. He had wanted to manage or coach in the major leagues, but received no offers.[citation needed] He became a vice-president for the Chock Full O' Nuts corporation instead, and served on the board of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) until 1967, when he resigned. During the early to late 50's, Jackie and Louis Ostrer owned Jackie Robinson's, a men's clothing store located on 125th St. in New York City.

He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in January, 1962 (elected with Bob Feller), his first year of eligibility, becoming the first African-American so honored. On June 4, 1972 the Dodgers retired his uniform number 42 alongside Roy Campanella (39) and Sandy Koufax (32).

In 1965 Jackie served as an analyst for ABC's Major League Baseball Game of the Week.

Robinson made his final public appearance on October 14, 1972, before Game 2 of the World Series in Cincinnati, when Robinson was nearly blind. He used this chance to express his wish for a black manager to be hired by a Major League Baseball team.[citation needed]

This wish was granted two years later, following the 1974 season, when the Cleveland Indians gave their managerial post to Frank Robinson, a Hall of Fame bound slugger who was then still an active player, and no relation to Jackie Robinson. At the press conference announcing his hiring, Frank expressed his wish that Jackie had lived to see the moment.[citation needed]

Robinson's final few years were marked by tragedy. In 1971, his eldest son, Jackie, Jr., who had beaten back drug problems and was working as a Daytop Village counselor, was killed in an automobile accident. Also, Jackie suffered from diabetes, went nearly blind, and suffered heart problems.

Jackie Robinson passed away in Stamford, Connecticut on October 24, 1972 at age 53 and was interred in the Cypress Hills Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York. The highway that goes through the cemetery (Interborough Parkway) was renamed the Jackie Robinson Parkway in April 1997.[22]

Awards and recognitionEdit

File:Jackie Robinson Park 2.JPG
  • In March 1984, President Ronald Reagan posthumously awarded Robinson the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
  • On April 15. 1997 ceremonies were held honoring Jackie Robinson at Shea Stadium, with Bill Clinton making a speech after the 5th inning. Robinson's #42, by order of Commissionaer Bud Selig, was retired by all 28 major league teams (and later the 2 1998 expansion teams) - having previously been retired only by the Dodgers. Under a "grandfather clause," active players already wearing the number were permitted to continue with it for the remainder of their playing careers. For sevweral years, through 2009, New York Yankee relief ace Mariano Rivera been the only remaining actibve player still wearing the number.
  • On October 29, 2003, the United States Congress posthumously awarded Robinson the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor, the highest award the Congress can bestow. Robinson's widow accepted the award in a ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda on March 2, 2005.
  • At the November 2006 groundbreaking for a new New York Mets ballpark, Citi Field, scheduled to open in 2009, it was announced that the main entrance, modeled on the one in Brooklyn's old Ebbets Field, will be called the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. Additionally, Mets owner Fred Wilpon said that the Mets and Citigroup would work with the Jackie Robinson Foundation to create a Jackie Robinson Museum and Learning Center in lower Manhattan, as well as fund scholarships for "young people who live by and embody Jackie's ideals."[23]


The 2004 book Carl Erskine's Tales from the Dodgers Dugout: Extra Innings includes short stories from former Dodger pitcher Carl Erskine. Robinson is prominent in many of these stories.


  1. Rothe, p544
  2. 2.0 2.1 Williams, Michael W.- Editor. An African American Encyclopedia. 1993.
  4. Bigelow, p225
  5. 5.0 5.1 Rampersad pp10-11
  6. Robinson, p9
  7. Rampersad, p23
  8. Rampersad, p35
  9. Rampersad, p36
  10. Rampersad, pp 36-37
  11. Rampersad, p37
  12. Rampersad, pp37-39
  13. Rampersad, pp40-41
  14. Rampersad, p47
  15. Rampersad, pp50-53
  16. Rampersad, p54
  17. Rampersad, pp59-61
  19. Ken Burns' documentary, BASEBALL, Part 6, minute 120
  20. Ken Burns' documentary, BASEBALL, Part 6, minute 122
  23. New York Daily News Mets honor Robinson at new home. Accessed November 14, 2006

See alsoEdit


External links Edit

Preceded by:
None, first holder of the award
Major League Rookie of the Year
Succeeded by:
Alvin Dark
Preceded by:
Stan Musial
National League Most Valuable Player
Succeeded by:
Jim Konstanty
Preceded by:
Stan Musial
National League Batting Champion
Succeeded by:
Stan Musial
Major League Baseball | MLB All-Century Team

Nolan Ryan | Sandy Koufax | Cy Young | Roger Clemens | Bob Gibson | Walter Johnson | Warren Spahn | Christy Mathewson | Lefty Grove
Johnny Bench | Yogi Berra | Lou Gehrig | Mark McGwire | Jackie Robinson | Rogers Hornsby | Mike Schmidt | Brooks Robinson | Cal Ripken, Jr. | Ernie Banks | Honus Wagner
Babe Ruth | Hank Aaron | Ted Williams | Willie Mays | Joe DiMaggio | Mickey Mantle | Ty Cobb | Ken Griffey, Jr. | Pete Rose | Stan Musial

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