Jackie Robinson facts for kids
Quick facts for kidsJackie Robinson
January 31, 1919
|Died: October 24, 1972
|April 15, 1947, for the Brooklyn Dodgers
|October 10, 1956, for the Brooklyn Dodgers
|Runs batted in
Major League Baseball
|Career highlights and awards
|Baseball Hall of Fame
|77.5% (first ballot)
Jack Roosevelt "Jackie" Robinson (January 31, 1919 – October 24, 1972) was the first African-American Major League Baseball (MLB) player of modern times. Robinson broke the baseball color barrier, also called the color line, when he debuted with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. He was the first black man to openly play in the major leagues since the 1880s. He had a big role in bringing racial segregation to an end in professional baseball. For sixty years until that point, African-Americans could only play in Negro leagues. Robinson's character and skills made people think about the usual basis of segregation. Robinson and his abilities added much to the civil rights movement.
Robinson had an overall good baseball career. Over ten seasons, he played in six World Series and helped in the Dodgers' 1955 World Championship. From 1949 to 1954, he was selected for all six All-Star Games. Robinson received the first MLB Rookie of the Year Award in 1947. He also won the National League Most Valuable Player Award in 1949. He was the first black player to win this award. Robinson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962. In 1997, Major League Baseball retired his uniform number, 42, across all major league teams.
Robinson was also known for his activities outside of baseball. He was the first African-American television analyst in Major League Baseball. He was also the first African-American vice-president of a major American company. In the 1960s, he helped establish the Freedom National Bank, an African-American-owned/controlled financial business based in Harlem, New York. In honor of his achievements on and off the field, Robinson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal after his death.
Robinson was born on January 31, 1919. His middle name was in honor of former President Theodore Roosevelt, who died twenty-five days before Robinson was born.
In 1935, Robinson graduated from Washington Junior High School. He then entered Muir Tech (now called John Muir High School). Seeing that Robinson was good at sports, his older brothers inspired Jackie to follow his interest in them. At Muir Tech, Robinson played several sports at the varsity level.
Robinson lettered in four sports: football, basketball, track, and baseball. Jackie played shortstop and catcher on the baseball team, quarterback on the football team, and guard on the basketball team. With the track and field team, he won awards in the broad jump. He was also part of the tennis team.
In 1936, Robinson won the junior boys singles championship in the yearly Pacific Coast Negro Tennis Tournament. He also won a place on the Pomona baseball tournament all-star team. In late January 1937, the Pasadena Star-News newspaper wrote that Robinson "for two years has been the outstanding athlete at Muir, starring in football, basketball, track, baseball, and tennis."
After attending Muir, Robinson went to Pasadena Junior College (PJC). There he continued his sports career by playing basketball, football, baseball, and track. While playing football at PJC, Robinson fractured his ankle. Issues from this would later delay his deployment status while in the military. Despite his injury, Jackie Robinson was one of the best athletes at Pasadena Junior College. He broke school broad jump records that had been held by his brother, Mack.
As at Muir Hugh School, most of Jackie's teammates at PJC were white. In 1938, he was elected to the All-Southland Junior College Team for baseball. He was also selected as the region's Most Valuable Player. That year, Robinson was one of ten students named to the school's Order of the Mast and Dagger (Omicron Mu Delta). This was awarded to students performing "outstanding service to the school and whose scholastic and citizenship record is worthy of recognition." It showed that Jackie not only excelled in sports but that he also was intelligent and had excellent character.
After graduating from PJC in the spring of 1939, Robinson transferred to UCLA, where he met his future bride. There he became the school's first athlete to win varsity letters in four sports: baseball, basketball, football, and track. He was one of four African-Americans on the 1939 UCLA Bruins football team. This made UCLA college football's most integrated team.
Robinson traveled to Honolulu in the fall of 1941 to play football. He played for the semi-professional, racially integrated Honolulu Bears. After a short season, Robinson returned to California in December of 1941. There he tried for a career as running back for the Los Angeles Bulldogs of the Pacific Coast Football League. By that time, however, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor had taken place. The attack made the United States enter World War II. This ended Robinson's football career.
In 1942, Robinson was drafted and assigned to a segregated Army cavalry unit in Fort Riley, Kansas. Having the necessary requirements, Robinson and several other black soldiers applied for entrance to an Officer Candidate School (OCS) then located at Fort Riley. The men were accepted into OCS. Upon finishing OCS, Robinson was commissioned as a second lieutenant in January of 1943. After receiving his commission, Robinson was moved to Fort Hood, Texas. There he joined the 761st "Black Panthers" Tank Battalion.
After he left the army, Robinson returned to his old football club, the Los Angeles Bulldogs, for a short time. Robinson then took an offer to be the athletic director at Sam Huston College in Austin. The job included coaching the school's basketball team for the 1944–45 season. Robinson was respected as a coach who made his players work hard. He received the respect of, among others, basketball player Marques Haynes, a future member of the Harlem Globetrotters.
On February 10, 1946, Jackie married his fiance, Rachel Isum, a nursing student he had met at UCLA. They went on to have three children: Jackie Jr., Sharon, and David. His family provided the emotional support he needed during the difficult times he faced as a black baseball player.
In early 1945, while Robinson was at Sam Huston College, the Kansas City Monarchs sent him a written offer to play professional baseball in the Negro leagues. Robinson accepted a contract for $400 ($6,502 in 2024) per month. This was a big deal for him at the time. In all, Robinson played 47 games for the Monarchs.
In the mid-1940s, Branch Rickey, the club president of the Brooklyn Dodgers, began to scout the Negro leagues for a possible addition to the Dodgers' roster. Rickey selected Robinson from a list of African-American players. He interviewed Robinson for an assignment to Brooklyn's (minor league) International League farm club, the Montreal Royals.
Rickey committed to officially signing Robinson before November 1, 1945. On October 23, it was announced that Robinson would be assigned to the Royals for the 1946 season. On the same day, with officials of the Royals (minor league) and Dodgers (major league) present, Robinson signed his contract with the Royals. In what was later referred to as "The Noble Experiment," Robinson was the first black baseball player in the International League since the 1880s.
Six days before the start of the 1947 season, the Dodgers brought Robinson up to the major leagues. On April 15, 1947, Robinson played his first major league game at Ebbets Field in front of a crowd of 26,623 spectators. More than 14,000 black fans attended the game. Robinson became the first player since the 1880s to openly break the major league baseball color line.
Robinson retired from baseball on January 5, 1957. Later that year, after he complained about a lot of physical problems, his doctors diagnosed Robinson with diabetes. Robinson started an insulin injection schedule. However, the quality of medicine at the time could not control the disease as well as the medicine we have today.
In 1965, Robinson served as an analyst for ABC's Major League Baseball Game of the Week telecasts. He was the first black person to do so. On June 4, 1972, the Dodgers retired his uniform number, 42. Retiring a number means that nobody on that team can use that number anymore. He was the first black person to serve as vice president of a major American company. Robinson always considered his business career as advancing the cause of African-Americans in business.
Robinson also chaired the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's (NAACP) million-dollar Freedom Fund Drive in 1957. He served on the organization's board until 1967. In 1964, he helped start, with Harlem businessman Dunbar McLaurin, Freedom National Bank – an African-American-owned and operated bank based in Harlem. He also served as the bank's first Chairman of the Board. In 1970, Robinson started the Jackie Robinson Construction Company to build housing for low-income families.
2,500 people attended Robinson's funeral service on October 27, 1972, at New York City's Riverside Church. Many of his former teammates and other famous black baseball players served as pallbearers (people who carry the coffin when necessary. The Reverend Jesse Jackson gave the eulogy. Tens of thousands of people lined the procession route that followed to Robinson's gravesite site at Cypress Hills Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York. He is buried next to his son Jackie and mother-in-law Zellee Isum.
After Robinson's death, his widow founded the Jackie Robinson Foundation, which advances higher education by providing scholarships for those who work hard. She stepped down as chairman of the board of directors, but still remains an officer as of 2022. Robinson's daughter Sharon serves as vice-chair of the board. As of 2022, funds are still being raised to open the Jackie Robinson Museum, which will be located at One Hudson Square in New York City.
Robinson's major league debut brought an end to almost sixty years of segregation in professional baseball, known as the baseball color line. Robinson's breaking of the baseball color line and his professional success meant big changes and showed that the fight for equality was more than just a political matter. Martin Luther King, Jr. said that he was "a legend and a symbol in his own time." In 1999, Jackie Robinson was named to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.
Robinson said about himself, "I'm not concerned with your liking or disliking me ... all I ask is that you respect me as a human being."
Awards and recognition
According to a poll conducted in 1947, Robinson was the second most popular man in the country, behind Bing Crosby. In 1999, he was named by Time magazine on its list of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century. Also in 1999, he ranked number 44 on the Sporting News list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players.
Robinson was among the 25 first members of UCLA’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 1984. In 2002, Robinson was on the list of 100 Greatest African Americans. He has been honored by the United States Postal Service on three different postage stamps, in 1982, 1999, and 2000.
Robinson has also been recognized outside of baseball. In December 1956, the NAACP recognized him with the Spingarn Medal, which it awards annually for the highest achievement by an African-American. President Ronald Reagan awarded Robinson the Presidential Medal of Freedom on March 26, 1984, after Robinson's death.
On March 2, 2005, President George W. Bush gave Robinson's widow the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award given by Congress. Robinson was only the second baseball player to receive the award. On August 20, 2007, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife, Maria Shriver, announced that Robinson was inducted into the California Hall of Fame, located at The California Museum for History, Women and the Arts in Sacramento.
A number of buildings have been named in Robinson's honor. The New York Public School system has named a middle school after Robinson. In 1976, his home in Brooklyn, the Jackie Robinson House, was declared a National Historic Landmark. Robinson also has an asteroid named after him, 4319 Jackierobinson. In 1997, the United States Mint issued a Jackie Robinson commemorative silver dollar and a five-dollar gold coin.
Jackie Robinson quotes
- "A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives."
- "I'm not concerned with your liking or disliking me... all I ask is that you respect me as a human being."
- "Life is not a spectator sport. If you're going to spend your whole life in the grandstand just watching what goes on, in my opinion you're wasting your life."
- “There’s not an American in this country free until every one of us is free.”
- "The most luxurious possession, the richest treasure anybody has, is his personal dignity."
- “Relationships may change throughout the gift of time, memories stay the same forever in my mind.”
Interesting facts about Jackie Robinson
- While Jackie was stationed in Fort Hood, he became friends with Joe Louis.
- Robinson's brother Mack raced with Jesse Owens in the 1936 Olympics.
- He was arrested twice: once in 1938 for arguing with a police officer about the arrest of a black friend and again in 1944 by military police for refusing to go the back of an army bus.
- Larry Doby became the second black player in the Major League. Robinson and Doby spoke regularly.
- Robinson was an excellent bunter: Robinson laid down 46 bunts in 1947 and all except four resulted in either a base hit or a sacrifice.
- Jackie starred as himself in the 1950 Hollywood film “The Jackie Robinson Story."
Images for kids
Lobby card for The Jackie Robinson Story, 1950, with Minor Watson (left, playing Dodgers president Branch Rickey) and Robinson
Robinson and his son David are interviewed during the March on Washington, August 28, 1963.
In Spanish: Jackie Robinson para niños
Jackie Robinson Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.