JACKIE ROBINSON
MAKE AN IMPACT

Jackie Robinson once said that a life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives. By that measure, his own life was monumental.

JACKIE ROBINSON

The Jackie Robinson Story


Jackie Roosevelt Robinson was born in Cairo, Georgia on January 31, 1919. He grew up in Pasadena, California with his mother and four older siblings. Robinson excelled as a young athlete in high school and junior college; at UCLA he lettered in four sports: baseball, basketball, football and track. He left school in 1941, worked briefly as an athletic director and played semi-professional football for the Honolulu Bears before being drafted to the Army in 1942. Robinson was instrumental in opening an Officer Candidate School to black soldiers and served as a second lieutenant with the 761st battalion, but while in basic training he was arrested and court-martialed for refusing to move to the back of a bus; he was acquitted and received an honorable discharge in 1944 without ever seeing combat.
Robinson joined the Negro League Kansas City Monarchs in 1945, a team that featured such stars as Satchel Paige and Buck O'Neil. His stellar play and demeanor caught the eye of Branch Rickey of the Brooklyn Dodgers, who signed him to play for the Montreal Royals, a Dodger farm team. In 1946, he led the International League in batting average and fielding percentage. Jackie Robinson was called up to the Dodgers and stepped across the color barrier on April 15, 1947. That year he played in 151 games, hit .297, led the National League in stolen bases and won the first-ever Rookie of the Year Award. Along the way, he endured hatred and taunts, but also found fellowship and thousands of fans as a true pioneer for civil rights.

Two years later, Jackie Robinson won the 1949 National League MVP award and by 1950 had become the highest paid player in Dodgers history. In his ten-year career, he helped the Dodgers win six pennants and one World Series. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962, his first year of eligibility. In 1972 the Dodgers retired his uniform number 42 and in 1997 Major League Baseball followed suit.


Jackie Robinson was an inspiration off the field as well, a noted civil-rights activist and catalyst for social change. A family man, in 1946 he married Rachel Issum, a nursing student he had met while at UCLA. Together they raised three children: Jackie Jr., Sharon and David. After he retired from baseball, Robinson involved himself in business ventures that encouraged black economic development. He became the vice-president of personnel for the Chock Full O' Nuts corporation and served on the board of the NAACP. He established the Jackie Robinson Construction Company to build affordable housing for low- and moderate-income black families. His many civic activities included work with children and adolescents, especially those involved in the YMCA.


Robinson's health began to deteriorate rapidly in the 1970s. On Oct. 15, 1972, he attended a World Series game in Cincinnati that included a commemoration of the 25th anniversary of his breaking the color barrier in professional baseball. During pre-game ceremonies, he spoke of his wish for a black manager to be hired by a Major League Baseball team. Ten days later, on Oct. 24, Jackie Robinson died of a heart attack at his home in Stamford, Connecticut.

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