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Robinson, Jackie (1919–1972)

Jackie Robinson (1919–1972)



In 1947, Jackie Robinson broke the "color barrier" in baseball (see entry under 1900s—Sports and Games in volume 1), becoming the first African American to play in the major leagues. His aggressive baserunning and timely hitting helped lead the Brooklyn Dodgers to a world championship in 1955. He was inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.

A native of Cairo, Georgia, Robinson began his baseball career in the Negro Leagues (see entry under 1900s—Sports and Games in volume 1). There he drew the attention of Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey (1881–1965), who signed him to a minor league contract in 1945. When Robinson made it to the majors two years later, he faced taunts and discrimination, even death threats, from hostile fans opposed to integration (the bringing together of different races). To his credit, Robinson rose above these threats and became one of the game's leading base stealers and clutch hitters (batters who do well in tense situations). He retired after ten years of playing and continued to speak out about racism in America until his death in 1972. In 1997, baseball decided to honor Robinson by "retiring" his uniform number "42" across the sport (no player could wear that number).


—Robert E. Schnakenberg

For More Information

Rampersand, Arnold. Jackie Robinson: A Biography. New York: Knopf, 1997.

Shatzkin, Mike. The Ballplayers: Baseball's Ultimate Biographical Reference. New York: Arbor House/William Morrow, 1990.

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