Jackie Robinson was a baseball legend at the beginning of the mid-20th century. Most notably, he was the first African American to play in Major League Baseball. April 15, 1947, was a great day in the history of American sport, as it marked the end of racial segregation in MLB. This happened with Robinson’s appearance at the first base for his team Brooklyn Dodgers.
Jackie Robinson was born Jack Roosevelt Robinson on the last day of January 1919 in Cairo, Georgia. During his ten-year career in MLB, he won the All-Star award for six consecutive seasons (1949-1954). During his first MLB season, Robinson won the Rookie of The Year Award.
Jackie Robinson Facts
1. In 1997, Robinson’s uniform number 42 was retired across all MLB teams
In 1997, the management of Major League Baseball bestowed the great Jackie Robinson with an unprecedented honor. His uniform number 42 was retired across all teams in the league. He became the first athlete in American history to receive such a high distinction, an interesting fact about Jackie Robinson.
2. MLB marks the Jackie Robinson Day on April 15th every year
On April 15th every year, the date of Jackie Robinson’s MLB debut, the League celebrates Jackie Robinson Day across all of its stadiums. On that special day, all players from all MLB teams wear Robinson’s number 42. The first Jackie Robinson Day was observed in 2004.
3. Robinson was an active member of NAACP
Robinson’s path to MLB was not easy and he had to overcome many obstacles so as to achieve his long-cherished dream. However, when he finally rose to national recognition, Robinson did not allow his newly-acquired stardom to cloud his vision of reality.
An interesting fact about Jackie Robinson is that he became one of the most active members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and was working tirelessly to protect the civil rights of all black athletes in the USA. Robinson collaborated closely with President Richard Nixon to improve the situation of all black people in the country.
4. Jackie’s brother Mack made quite a splash at the 1936 summer Olympics in Berlin
Jackie Robinson grew up in a big family with three brothers and one sister. Most notably, his elder brother Matthew MacKenzie “Mack” Robinson was an accomplished track and field athlete and a formidable sprinter.
He caused quite a splash at the 1936 summer Olympics in Berlin, winning a silver medal in the Men’s 200 meters event. Despite breaking the then Olympic record, he still finished 0.4 seconds behind the legend, Jesse Owens.
5. Robinson’s John Muir High School was an incubator of baseball talents
Robinson fell in love with the great game at a very early age, but it was at the John Muir High School where he first honed his remarkable technique. There, he played together with future MLB stars Ted Williams and Bob Lemon.
6. Jackie Robinson was a skilled tennis player
Jackie Robinson’s strong right hand made him a skill tennis player, too. His most notable achievement was his win of the singles event at the Pacific Coast Negro Tennis Tournament. As the tournament’s name suggests, American tennis at that time was also plagued by racial division.
7. Civil disobedience saved Robinson from the atrocities of World War II
Had it not for an incident in which Jackie Robinson refused to occupy a back seat on an unsegregated city bus and got arrested by the Military Police, this remarkable baseball player could have lost his life on the battlefields of World War II.
Instead to the frontline, he was taken to a military courtroom to be tried for civil disobedience, an interesting Jackie Robinson fact. He was eventually acquitted and sent to Camp Breckinridge in Kentucky, where he trained soldiers and officers in athletics.
8. Pee Wee Reese took Jackie Robinson under his wing in the 1947 MLB season
The rookie season of Jackie Robinson in MLB was not an easy one. He had to put up with a lot of teasing, racial chants and mockery from fans and rival players alike. The man who firmly stood by him in those difficult times was his teammate in the Dodgers, Harold Peter Henry “Pee Wee” Reese. He once said that “you can hate a man for many reasons, but color should not be one of them”.
9. Robinson’s remarkable “hit for the cycle” in 1948
It was Jackie Robinson’s second season in MLB and his team were playing against St. Louis Cardinals a game that they were clearly winning. And then, Robison worked true magic on the pitch. He scored consequently a home run, a triple, a double, and a single. This, in baseball language, is called “hit for the cycle” and is considered an outstanding achievement in one game.
10. His specialty was to steal bases
There was hardly anything that Jackie Robinson could not do on the baseball field, but his specialty was to steal bases. Throughout his remarkable career, he used to steal over thirty bases every single season, a fun fact about Jackie Robinson.
11. Robinson played himself in the biographic film The Jackie Robinson Story
A gifted athlete as Jackie Robinson was, he also showed some raw talent in acting. In 1950, he appeared as himself in the biographic motion picture The Jackie Robinson Story. It is noteworthy that Oscar nominee Ruby Dee played his wife Rachel Isum Robinson.
12. Jackie Robinson was a vaudeville celebrity
During the off-season, Jackie Robinson used to tour the southern states making a series of stand-up shows, during which he would answer questions about his life and career. These appearances drew in huge crowds and actually brought him more money than his professional contract. Needless to say, these shows were a great inspiration for thousands of black boys, who wanted to be like him.
When Jackie Robinson was 37 years old, he put an end to his glorious career, because his diabetes had started to catch up with him. Yet, he remained politically and socially active until his final days in 1972. His remarkable life story will always be an inspiration for budding baseball talents across the globe.
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