Jack Robinson (Jack Roosevelt Robinson, Jackie Robinson) was born in Cairo, Georgia On January 31, 1919 to a family of sharecroppers. His mother, Mallie Robinson, single-handedly raised Jackie and her four other children. They were the only black family on their block, and the prejudice they encountered only strengthened their bond.
From this humble beginning would grow the first baseball player to break Major League Baseball’s color barrier that segregated the sport for more than 50 years.
Jackie Robinson Full Biography and Profile
Growing up in a large, single-parent family, Jackie Robinson excelled early at all sports and learned to make his own way in life. At UCLA, Jackie became the first athlete to win varsity letters in four sports: baseball, basketball, football and track.
In 1941, he was named to the All-American football team. Due to financial difficulties, he was forced to leave college and eventually decided to enlist in the U.S. Army.
After two years in the army, he had progressed to second lieutenant. Jackie’s army career was cut short when he was court-martialed in relation to his objections with incidents of racial discrimination. In the end, Jackie left the Army with an honorable discharge.
In 1945, Jackie played one season in the Negro Baseball League, traveling all over the Midwest with the Kansas City Monarchs. But greater challenges and achievements were in store for him. In 1947, Brooklyn Dodgers president Branch Rickey approached Jackie about joining the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Major Leagues had not had an African-American player since 1889, when baseball became segregated.
When Jack Roosevelt Robinson first donned a Brooklyn Dodger uniform, he pioneered the integration of professional athletics in America. By breaking the color barrier in baseball, the nation’s preeminent sport, he courageously challenged the deeply rooted custom of racial segregation in both the North and the South.
At the end of Robinson’s rookie season with the Brooklyn Dodgers, he had become National League Rookie of the Year with 12 homers, a league-leading 29 steals, and a .297 average. In 1949, he was selected as the NL’s Most Valuable player of the Year and also won the batting title with a .342 average that same year.
As a result of his great success, Jack Roosevelt Robinson was eventually inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.
Jackie married Rachel Isum, a nursing student he met at UCLA, in 1946. As an African-American baseball player, Jackie was on display for the whole country to judge. Rachel and their three children, Jackie Jr., Sharon and David, provided Jackie with the emotional support and sense of purpose essential for bearing the pressure during the early years of baseball.
Jackie Robinson’s life and legacy will be remembered as one of the most important in American history. In 1997, the world celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Jackie’s breaking Major League Baseball’s color barrier.
In doing so, we honored the man who stood defiantly against those who would work against racial equality and acknowledged the profound influence of one man’s life on the American culture. On the date of Robinson’s historic debut, all Major League teams across the nation celebrated this milestone.
Also that year, The United States Post Office honored Robinson by making him the subject of a commemorative postage stamp. On Tuesday, April 15th, President Bill Clinton paid tribute to Jackie at Shea Stadium in New York in a special ceremony.
In 1947, Jackie Robinson engineered the integration of professional sports in America by breaking the color barrier in baseball. He overcame numerous obstacles in his 10 year career to become one of baseball’s most exciting and dazzling players. His enormous talent helped lead the Brooklyn Dodgers to six pennants and one World Series Championship. The ultimate honor was bestowed when Jackie was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962, his first year of eligibility.
However, Jackie Robinson’s contributions go far beyond the baseball diamond. Upon retirement from baseball, Jackie fought tirelessly to improve the quality of life not only for African-Americans, but for society as a whole. By becoming the first black vice president of a major American corporation, Robinson continued to open doors for African Americans.
- Attended Washington Junior High School in 1935.
- Achieved four-letterman status at John Muir Technical High School.
- Enrolled in Pasadena Junior College 1938-1939.
- Led Pasadena to the Junior College Championship in 1938.
- Named Most Valuable Junior College Player in Southern California in 1938.
- Held the National Junior College broad jump record.
- Transferred to UCLA 1939-1940.
- Won the NCAA broad jump title at 25′ 6 1/2″.
- Became UCLA’s first four-letter man.
- Served in the U.S. Army from 1942-1945, during which he became second Lieutenant.
- Inducted into UCLA’s Hall of Fame on June 10, 1984.
Jackie Robinson Foundation
After Jackie Robinson’s death in 1972, his wife Rachel established the Jackie Robinson Foundation dedicated to honoring his life and work. The foundation helps young people in need by providing scholarships and mentoring programs.
- Broke the color barrier in major league baseball in 1947 by becoming the first African-American player.
- Named National League Rookie of the Year in 1947.
- Led the National League in stolen bases in 1947 and 1949.
- Led second basemen in double plays 1949, 1950, 1951 and 1952.
- Selected as the National League MVP in 1949
- Won the 1949 batting title with a .342.
- National League All-Star Team, 1949-1954.
- Had a career batting average of .311 with the Dodgers, .333 in All-Star games
- Led the Dodgers to six World Series and one World Series Championship in a 10-year span.
- Starred in “The Jackie Robinson Story” in 1950.
- Opened a men’s apparel store on 125th street in Harlem from 1952-1958.
- Signed a contract with WNBC and WNBT to serve as Director of Community Activities in 1952.
- Became Vice President of Chock Full O’Nuts in 1957.
- Served in numerous campaigns and on the board of directors for the NAACP from 1957-1967.
- Established the Jackie Robinson Construction Company in 1970 to build housing for families with low incomes.
- Author of autobiography “I Never Had It Made.”
Jackie Robinson Park
In 1978, a 10 square-block park in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City was christened The Jackie Robinson Park to honor the baseball player.
Robinson’s life was the subject of the acclaimed 2013 Brian Helgeland film 42, which starred Chadwick Boseman as Jackie Robinson and Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey. In 2016, filmmaker Ken Burns premiered a documentary about the baseball legend on PBS.
– Jack Roosevelt Robinson Biography and Profile (Jackie Robinson)