Jackie Roosevelt Robinson was born in 1919 to Mallie and Jerry Robinson in Cairo, Georgia and was the youngest of five children. His siblings were Edgar, Frank, Matthew and Willa Mae and the family later moved to Pasadena, California.
He graduated from Washington Junior High School in 1935 and enrolled at John Muir High School. Jackie Robinson brothers recognized early his athletic abilities and encouraged him to pursue his interest in sports.
Jackie became the first African American to play in a Major League Baseball (MLB) in the modern era. He broke the racial barriers when Brooklyn Dodgers started him at first base on April 15, 1947.
This opened up the MLB to black professional players who since the 1880s were relegated to the Negro leagues.
Jackie Roosevelt Robinson went on to have an exceptional 10 year career in the Major League Baseball (MLB), winning the inaugural MLB rookie of the year award in 1947. He also won the National League most valuable player in 1949, the first African American to do so. Robinson was an All-Star for six consecutive seasons and played in six World Series.
He also had many other firsts;
- The first pro athlete in any sport to have his shirt number retired. In 1997 MLB universally retired his shirt number 42 across all major league teams.
- MLB also adopted for the first time a day to honor a player with April 15, named the “Jackie Robinson” day. On this day all players across all teams wear No 42.
- He was the first African American to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.
- Robinson was the first black television analyst in the MLB.
- He was also the first black vice president of a major American corporation, Chock full o’Nuts.
He contributed significantly to the civil rights movements and was posthumously awarded Congressional Gold Medal and Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Jackie Roosevelt Robinson died in 1972 at the age of 53 from a heart attack resulting from complications heart disease and diabetes.