- NAME: Jackie Robinson
- OCCUPATION: Baseball Player
- BIRTH DATE: January 31, 1919
- DEATH DATE: October 24, 1972
- Did You Know?: Before becoming a professional baseball player, Jackie Robinson played football for the Honolulu Bears.
- Did You Know?: While serving as a lieutenant for the U.S. Army in 1944, Jackie Robinson was court-martialed after refusing to move to the back of a segregated bus. He was ultimately acquitted.
- Did You Know?: Before offering Jackie Robinson the contract that integrated professional baseball, Branch Rickey personally tested Robinson's reactions to racial slurs and insults that he anticipated.
- Did You Know?: Jackie Robinson became the first black player in the major leagues in 1947, signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
- Did You Know?: Jackie Robinson had an older brother, Matthew, who won a silver medal in the 200-meter dash at the 1936 Olympics. He came in second to Jesse Owens.
- Did You Know?: After retiring from baseball, Robinson helped establish the African American-owned and -controlled Freedom Bank.
- EDUCATION: John Muir High School, Pasadena Junior College, University of California, Los Angeles
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Cairo, Georgia
- PLACE OF DEATH: Stamford, Connecticut
- Originally: Jack Roosevelt Robinson
Best Known For
Jackie Robinson became the first black player in the major leagues in 1947, signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers. He was named Rookie of the Year in 1947, National League MVP in 1949 and a World Series champ in 1955.
Jackie Robinson - Full Episode (22:48)
Watch a short video about Jackie Robinson and the many barriers he faced as Major League Baseball's first African-American player.
Jackie Robinson broke many boundaries as one of the greatest players in Brooklyn Dodger and Major League Baseball history.
While serving in the military, Jackie Robinson was arrested for refusing to move to the back of a segregated bus. In 1947, he made history when his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers ended racial segregation in Major League Baseball.
In his quest for excellence and equality, all-star athlete Jackie Robinson shatters the barriers of racism to become the first black baseball player to play in the major leagues.
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Born January 31, 1919, in Cairo, Georgia, Jackie Robinson became the first black player in the major leagues in 1947, signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Throughout his decade-long career with the Dodgers, Robinson made advancements in the cause of civil rights for black athletes. In 1955, he helped the Dodgers win the World Series. He retired in 1957 with a career batting average of .311. Robinson died in Connecticut in 1972.
"There's not an American in this country free until every one of us is free."
"The way I figured it, I was even with baseball and baseball with me. The game had done much for me, and I had done much for it."
"A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives."
"Baseball is like a poker game. Nobody wants to quit when he's losing; nobody wants you to quit when you're ahead."
“Not being able to fight back is a form of severe punishment.”
“A black man, even after he has proven himself on and off the playing field, will still be denied his rights.”
“I'm grateful for all the breaks and honors and opportunities I've had, but I always believe I won't have it made until the humblest black kid in the most remote backwoods of America has it made.”
“I had learned that I was in two wars, one against the foreign enemy, the other against prejudice at home.”
“I want to thank all of the people throughout this country who were just so wonderful during those trying days.”
“I like friends just as much as other people. But if it comes down to the question of having a choice between the friendship of some of these writers and their respect, I'll take their respect.”
“I'm going to be tremendously pleased and more proud when I look at the third base coaching line one day and see a black face managing in baseball.”
“Black America has asked so little, but if you can't see the anger that comes from rejection, you are treading a dangerous course.”
"If I had to choose tomorrow between the Baseball Hall of Fame and full citizenship for my people I would choose full citizenship time and again."
“[B]ack in the days when integration wasn’t fashionable, he underwent the trauma and the humiliation and the loneliness which comes with being a pilgrim walking the lonesome byways toward the high road of freedom. He was a sit-inner before the sit-ins, a freedom rider before the freedom rides.”
"The right of every American to first-class citizenship is the most important issue of our time."
"Above anything else, I hate to lose."
Jack Roosevelt Robinson was born on January 31, 1919, in Cairo, Georgia. Breaking the color barrier, Jackie Robinson became the first African-American to play in baseball's major leagues. The youngest of five children, Robinson was raised in relative poverty by a single mother. He attended John Muir High School and Pasadena Junior College, where he was an excellent athlete and played four sports: football, basketball, track, and baseball. He was named the region's Most Valuable Player in baseball in 1938.
Robinson's older brother, Matthew Robinson, inspired Jackie to pursue his talent and love for athletics. Matthew won a silver medal in the 200-meter dash—just behind Jesse Owens—at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.
Jackie continued his education at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he became the university's first student to win varsity letters in four sports. In 1941, despite his athletic success, Robinson was forced to leave UCLA just shy of graduation due to financial hardship. He moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, where he played football for the semi-professional Honolulu Bears. His season with the Bears was cut short when the United States entered into World War II.
From 1942 to 1944, Robinson served as a second lieutenant in the United States Army. He never saw combat, however. During boot camp in 1944 in Fort Hood, Texas, Robinson was arrested and court-martialed after refusing to give up his seat and move to the back of a segregated bus when ordered to by the driver. Robinson's excellent reputation, combined with the united efforts of friends, the NAACP and various black newspapers, shed public light on the injustice, and he was ultimately acquitted of the charges and received an honorable discharge. His courage and moral objection to segregation were precursors to the impact Robinson would have in major league baseball.
After his discharge from the Army in 1944, Robinson began to play baseball professionally. At the time, the sport was segregated, and African-Americans and whites played in separate leagues. Robinson began playing in the Negro Leagues, but he was soon chosen by Branch Rickey, president of the Brooklyn Dodgers, to help integrate major league baseball. He joined the all-white Montreal Royals, a farm team for the Brooklyn Dodgers, in 1946. Robinson later moved to Florida to begin spring training with the Royals, and played his first game in Ebbets Field for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947—becoming the first black player to compete in the major leagues.
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