Jackie Robinson Parkway

Jack Roosevelt "Jackie" Robinson (1919-1972) will forever be remembered and honored as the first Black player in Major League Baseball. Born in Georgia, he was raised by a single mother along with his four siblings. His early success as a student athlete led him to UCLA, where he became the first athlete to win varsity letters in four sports (baseball, football. basketball and track).

After serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, he played for the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues in 1944 and was selected by Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey as a player who could start the integration of the white major leagues. Robinson was recognized not only for his baseball talents, but because he was thought to have had the right demeanor for the challenges he would ultimately face.

Robinson made his National League debut on April 15, 1947, as Brooklyn's first baseman. In spite of the abuse of the crowds and some fellow baseball players, he endured and succeeded in the sport. He won the Rookie of the Year Award that year. Two years later, he was named the National League MVP, when he led the league with a .342 batting average, 37 steals and 124 RBI. A few select players, like Dodgers’ shortstop Pee Wee Reese, were particularly supportive of Robinson in spite of the taunting and jeers and helped him excel. In Robinson’s 10 seasons with the Dodgers, the team won six pennants and ultimately captured the 1955 World Series title.

Robinson’s struggles and achievements paved the way for Black players in baseball and other sports. When he retired after the 1956 season, he left the game with a .313 batting average, 972 runs scored, 1,563 hits and 200 stolen bases. After baseball, Robinson operated a chain of restaurants and coffee shops but continued to advocate for social change, serving on the board of the NAACP. He died of a heart attack in 1972.

Robinson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as its first Black player in 1962. On April 15, 1997, 50 years after his major league debut, his uniform number 42 was retired from all teams of Major League Baseball, a unique honor to this day. Ten years later in 2007, April 15 was declared to be Jackie Robinson Day. In Robinson's honor, all major league players, coaches and managers wear the number 42 on that day.


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