Jack Roosevelt "Jackie" Robinson was an American professional baseballsecond baseman who became the first African American to play in Major League Baseball
Jack Roosevelt "Jackie" Robinson (January 31, 1919 – October 24, 1972) was an American professional baseballsecond baseman who became the first African American to play in Major League Baseball (MLB) in the modern era. Robinson broke the baseball color line when the Brooklyn Dodgers started him at first base on April 15, 1947. The Dodgers, by signing Robinson, heralded the end of racial segregation in professional baseball that had relegated black players to the Negro leagues since the 1880s. Robinson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962. Robinson had an exceptional 10-year baseball career. He was the recipient of the inaugural MLB Rookie of the Year Award in 1947, was an All-Star for six consecutive seasons from 1949 through 1954, and won the National LeagueMost Valuable Player Award in 1949—the first black player so honored. Robinson played in six World Seriesand contributed to the Dodgers' 1955 World Series championship.
In 1997, MLB "universally" retired his uniform number, 42, across all major league teams; he was the first pro athlete in any sport to be so honored. MLB also adopted a new annual tradition, "Jackie Robinson Day", for the first time on April 15, 2004, on which every player on every team wears No. 42. Robinson's character, his use of nonviolence, and his unquestionable talent challenged the traditional basis of segregation which then marked many other aspects of American life. He influenced the culture of and contributed significantly to the Civil Rights Movement. Robinson also was the first black television analyst in MLB, and the first black vice president of a major American corporation, Chock full o'Nuts. In the 1960s, he helped establish the Freedom National Bank, an African-American-owned financial institution based in Harlem, New York. In recognition of his achievements on and off the field, Robinson was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal and Presidential Medal of Freedom. Family and personal life Robinson was born on January 31, 1919, into a family of sharecroppers in Cairo, Georgia.
He was the youngest of five children born to Mallie (McGriff) and Jerry Robinson, after siblings Edgar, Frank, Matthew (nicknamed "Mack"), and Willa Mae. His middle name was in honor of former President Theodore Roosevelt, who died 25 days before Robinson was born. After Robinson's father left the family in 1920, they moved to Pasadena, California. The extended Robinson family established itself on a residential plot containing two small houses at 121 Pepper Street in Pasadena. Robinson's mother worked various odd jobs to support the family.
Growing up in relative poverty in an otherwise affluent community, Robinson and his minority friends were excluded from many recreational opportunities. As a result, Robinson joined a neighborhood gang, but his friend Carl Anderson persuaded him to abandon it. John Muir High School In 1935, Robinson graduated from Washington Junior High School and enrolled at John Muir High School (Muir Tech). Recognizing his athletic talents, Robinson's older brothers Mack (himself an accomplished athlete and silver medalist at the 1936 Summer Olympics) and Frank inspired Jackie to pursue his interest in sports. At Muir Tech, Robinson played several sports at the varsity level and lettered in four of them: football, basketball, track, and baseball. He played shortstop and catcher on the baseball team, quarterback on the football team, and guard on the basketball team. With the track and field squad, he won awards in the broad jump. He was also a member of the tennis team.
In 1936, Robinson won the junior boys singles championship in the annual Pacific Coast Negro Tennis Tournament and earned a place on the Pomona annual baseball tournament all-star team, which included future Hall of Famers Ted Williams and Bob Lemon. In late January 1937, the Pasadena Star-Newsnewspaper reported that Robinson "for two years has been the outstanding athlete at Muir, starring in football, basketball, track, baseball and tennis." Pasadena Junior College After Muir, Robinson attended Pasadena Junior College (PJC), where he continued his athletic career by participating in basketball, football, baseball, and track.On the football team, he played quarterback and safety. He was a shortstop and leadoff hitter for the baseball team, and he broke school broad-jump records held by his brother Mack. As at Muir High School, most of Jackie's teammates were white. While playing football at PJC, Robinson suffered a fractured ankle, complications from which would eventually delay his deployment status while in the military. In 1938, he was elected to the All-Southland Junior College Team for baseball and selected as the region's Most Valuable Player.
That year, Robinson was one of 10 students named to the school's Order of the Mast and Dagger (Omicron Mu Delta), awarded to students performing "outstanding service to the school and whose scholastic and citizenship record is worthy of recognition." Also while at PJC, he was elected to the Lancers, a student-run police organization responsible for patrolling various school activities. An incident at PJC illustrated Robinson's impatience with authority figures he perceived as racist—a character trait that would resurface repeatedly in his life. On January 25, 1938, he was arrested after vocally disputing the detention of a black friend by police. Robinson received a two-year suspended sentence, but the incident—along with other rumored run-ins between Robinson and police—gave Robinson a reputation for combativeness in the face of racial antagonism.Toward the end of his PJC tenure, Frank Robinson (to whom Robinson felt closest among his three brothers) was killed in a motorcycle accident. The event motivated Jackie to pursue his athletic career at the nearby University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he could remain closer to Frank's family. UCLA and afterward Robinson doing the long jump for UCLA
Robinson enrolled at UCLA, where he became the school's first athlete to win varsity letters in four sports: baseball, basketball, football, and track.
He took a job as an assistant athletic director with the government's National Youth Administration (NYA) in Atascadero, California.
Robinson enrolled at UCLA, where he became the school's first athlete to win varsity letters in four sports: baseball, basketball, football, and track. He was one of four black players on the 1939 UCLA Bruins football team; the others were Woody Strode, Kenny Washington, and Ray Bartlett. Washington, Strode, and Robinson made up three of the team's four backfield players. At a time when only a few black students played mainstream college football, this made UCLA college football's most integrated team. In track and field, Robinson won the 1940 NCAA Men's Track and Field Championships in the long jump, jumping 24 ft 10 1⁄4 in (7.58 m). Belying his future career, baseball was Robinson's "worst sport" at UCLA; he hit .097 in his only season, although in his first game he went 4-for-4 and twice stole home. While a senior at UCLA, Robinson met his future wife, Rachel Isum (born 1922), a UCLA freshman who was familiar with Robinson's athletic career at PJC. In the spring semester of 1941, despite his mother's and Isum's reservations, Robinson left college just shy of graduation.
He took a job as an assistant athletic director with the government's National Youth Administration (NYA) in Atascadero, California. After the government ceased NYA operations, Robinson traveled to Honolulu in fall 1941 to play football for the semi-professional, racially integrated Honolulu Bears. After a short season, Robinson returned to California in December 1941 to pursue a career as running back for the Los Angeles Bulldogs of the Pacific Coast Football League. By that time, however, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor had taken place, drawing the United States into World War II and ending Robinson's nascent football career.