- NAME: Jackie Robinson
- OCCUPATION: Baseball Player
- BIRTH DATE: January 31, 1919
- DEATH DATE: October 24, 1972
- 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 African-American to play major league baseball, becoming 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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People in the crowds sometimes jeered at Robinson, and he and his family received threats.
Despite the racial abuse, particularly at away games, Robinson had an outstanding start with the Royals, leading the International League with a .349 batting average and .985 fielding percentage. His excellent year led to his promotion to the Dodgers. His debut game on April 15, 1947, marked the first time an African-American athlete played in the major leagues.
The harassment continued, however,
most notably by the Philadelphia Phillies and their manager Ben Chapman. During one infamous game, Chapman and his team shouted derogatory terms at Robinson from their dugout. Many players on opposing teams threatened not to play against the Dodgers. Even his own teammates threatened to sit out. But Dodgers manager Leo Durocher informed them that he would sooner trade them than Robinson. His loyalty to the player set the tone for the rest of Robinson's career with the team.
Others defended Jackie Robinson's right to play in the major leagues, including League President Ford Frick, Baseball Commissioner Happy Chandler, Jewish baseball star Hank Greenberg and Dodgers shortstop and team captain Pee Wee Reese. In one incident, while fans harassed Robinson from the stands, Reese walked over and put his arm around his teammate, a gesture that has become legendary in baseball history.
Jackie Robinson succeeded in putting the prejudice and racial strife aside, and showed everyone what a talented player he was. In his first year, he hit 12 home runs and helped the Dodgers win the National League pennant. That year, Robinson led the National League in stolen bases and was selected as Rookie of the Year. He continued to wow fans and critics alike with impressive feats, such as an outstanding .342 batting average during the 1949 season. He led in stolen bases that year and earned the National League's Most Valuable Player Award.
Robinson soon became a hero of the sport, even among former critics, and was the subject for the popular song, "Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball?" An exceptional base runner, Robinson stole home 19 times in his career, setting a league record. He also became the highest-paid athlete in Dodgers history, and his success in the major leagues opened the door for other African-American players, such as Satchel Paige, Willie Mays, and Hank Aaron.
Robinson also became a vocal champion for African-American athletes, civil rights, and other social and political causes. In July 1949, he testified on discrimination before the House Un-American Activities Committee. In 1952, he publicly called out the Yankees as a racist organization for not having broken the color barrier five years after he began playing with the Dodgers.
In his decade-long career with the Dodgers, Robinson and his team won the National League pennant several times. Finally, in 1955, he helped them achieve the ultimate victory: the World Series. After failing before in four other series match-ups, the Dodgers beat the New York Yankees.
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