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Fri, 01.31.1919

Baseball’s Jackie Robinson, “the chosen one”

Jackie Robinson

*Jackie Robinson was born on this date in 1919. He was an African American athlete, business executive, and civil rights leader.

Born to a family of sharecroppers in Cairo, Georgia, Jack Roosevelt Robinson attended Pasadena Junior College and UCLA. In 1941 Robinson left college to join the United States Army and he received an honorable discharge in 1944 with the rank of first lieutenant. The following year, Robinson began his professional baseball career with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues.

That same year, Robinson signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers. After one season, he was called up to Brooklyn, starting at first base on April 15, 1947. Breaking baseball's color barrier was a serious challenge, and Robinson met fierce racial resistance from many players on opposing teams and the Dodgers, and from fans. Some rival players threw pitches at his head, spat on him when he slid into a base and more. With the support of Brooklyn owner Branch Rickey and the encouragement of some teammates, the determined Robinson survived these attacks and helped the Dodgers win the National League pennant.

That season he was named rookie of the year. Robinson's exciting style of play included graceful fielding, timely hitting, and aggressive base running. He retired from pro baseball after the 1956 season with a career batting average of.311 and he was inducted to Hall of Fame in 1962, the first Black players to receive that honor. After baseball, Robinson became vice president of a restaurant chain in New York City.

He also promoted Black business in Harlem and became a leading advocate for civil rights. Jackie Robinson died in 1972.

The Encyclopedia of African American Heritage
by Susan Altman
Copyright 1997, Facts on File, Inc. New York
ISBN 0-8160-3289-0

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