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Jackie Robinson

Jackie Robinson

Jackie Robinson

Position(s):
1B, 2B, 3B, OF, SS, LF, RF
Born:
January 31, 1919
Bats:
Right
Throws:
Right
Height:
5' 11"
Weight:
195 lbs
Major League Debut:
4-15-1947 with BRO
Allstar Selections:
1947 ROOK, 1949 MVP
Hall of Fame:
1962

Intro

There are two men in baseball history that every American should learn about: Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson. Ruth deserves to be remembered primarily for what he did between the lines, Robinson for simply crossing the line. After Branch Rickey bravely signed him to a contract, Robinson broke the "unwritten" color barrier when he played for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. He endured taunts, insults, threatened boycotts, death threats, isolation, and immense pressure to become the best all-around player in the National League. He won Rookie of the Year honors, the Most Valuable Player Award, and led Brooklyn to six pennants in ten years. After his playing career he emerged as an important civil rights leader in America.

Unform Number

#42 (1947-1956), this number has been retired by every major league team.

Replaced By

Robinson probably could have played a few more years as an effective role player, but he retired himself as his skills started to fade. The players who benefitted from his retirement were chiefly Gino Cimoli and Charlie Neal, two young Dodgers who got regular playing time because Robinson was out of Walter Alston's defensive rotation between third/second/first.

Best Season

Jackie wasn't a terrible second baseman. He was bounced around defensively because he was the most versatile athlete on the team. In 1949 his batting and baserunning made headlines. Robinson batted .342 (first), and finished in the top three in runs (122), hits (203), doubles, triples, RBI (124), OBP, and slugging (.528). He paced the league in steals (37) and created havoc as a baserunner. Robinson helped the Dodgers to the pennant.

Factoid 1

Jackie Robinson was traded to the New York Giants in December of 1956, but he retired in January and nullified the deal. John Muir High School In 1935, Robinson graduated from Washington Junior High School and enrolled at John Muir High School (Muir Tech). Recognizing his athletic talents, Robinson's older brothers Mack (himself an accomplished athlete and silver medalist at the 1936 Summer Olympics) and Frank inspired Jackie to pursue his interest in sports. At Muir Tech, Robinson played several sports at the varsity level and lettered in four of them: football, basketball, track, and baseball. He played shortstop and catcher on the baseball team, quarterback on the football team, and guard on the basketball team. With the track and field squad, he won awards in the broad jump. He was also a member of the tennis team. In 1936, Robinson won the junior boys singles championship in the annual Pacific Coast Negro Tennis Tournament and earned a place on the Pomona annual baseball tournament all-star team, which included future Hall of Famers Ted Williams and Bob Lemon. In late January 1937, the Pasadena Star-News newspaper reported that Robinson "for two years has been the outstanding athlete at Muir, starring in football, basketball, track, baseball and tennis." Pasadena Junior College After Muir, Robinson attended Pasadena Junior College (PJC), where he continued his athletic career by participating in basketball, football, baseball, and track. On the football team, he played quarterback and safety. He was a shortstop and leadoff hitter for the baseball team, and he broke school broad jump records held by his brother Mack. As at Muir High School, most of Jackie's teammates were white. While playing football at PJC, Robinson suffered a fractured ankle, complications from which would eventually delay his deployment status while in the military. Also while at PJC, he was elected to the Lancers, a student-run police organization responsible for patrolling various school activities. In 1938, he was elected to the All-Southland Junior College Team for baseball and 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), awarded to students performing "outstanding service to the school and whose scholastic and citizenship record is worthy of recognition." An incident at PJC illustrated Robinson's impatience with authority figures he perceived as racist – a character trait that would resurface repeatedly in his life. On January 25, 1938, he was arrested after vocally disputing the detention of a black friend by police. Robinson received a two-year suspended sentence, but the incident – along with other rumored run-ins between Robinson and police – gave Robinson a reputation for combativeness in the face of racial antagonism. Toward the end of his PJC tenure, Frank Robinson (to whom Robinson felt closest among his three brothers) was killed in a motorcycle accident. The event motivated Jackie to pursue his athletic career at the nearby University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he could remain closer to Frank's family. UCLA and afterward After graduating from PJC in spring 1939, Robinson transferred to UCLA, where he became the school's first athlete to win varsity letters in four sports: baseball, basketball, football, and track. He was one of four black players on the 1939 UCLA Bruins football team; the others were Woody Strode, Kenny Washington, and Ray Bartlett. Washington, Strode, and Robinson made up three of the team's four backfield players. At a time when only a handful of black players existed in mainstream college football, this made UCLA college football's most integrated team. In track and field, Robinson won the 1940 NCAA Men's Outdoor Track and Field Championship in the Long Jump, jumping 24'10.5". Belying his future career, baseball was Robinson's "worst sport" at UCLA; he hit .097 in his only season, although in his first game he went 4-for-4 and twice stole home. While a senior at UCLA, Robinson met his future wife, Rachel Isum, a UCLA freshman who was familiar with Robinson's athletic career at PJC. In the spring semester of 1941, despite his mother's and Isum's reservations, Robinson left college just shy of graduation. He took a job as an assistant athletic director with the government's National Youth Administration (NYA) in Atascadero, California. After the government ceased NYA operations, Robinson traveled to Honolulu in fall 1941 to play football for the semi-professional, racially integrated Honolulu Bears. After a short season, Robinson returned to California in December 1941 to pursue 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, drawing the United States into World War II and ending Robinson's nascent football career. In 1942, Robinson was drafted and assigned to a segregated Army cavalry unit in Fort Riley, Kansas. Having the requisite qualifications, Robinson and several other black soldiers applied for admission to an Officer Candidate School (OCS) then located at Fort Riley. Although the Army's initial July 1941 guidelines for OCS had been drafted as race-neutral, practically speaking few black applicants were admitted into OCS until after subsequent directives by Army leadership. As a result, the applications of Robinson and his colleagues were delayed for several months. After protests by heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis (then stationed at Fort Riley) and the help of Truman Gibson (then an assistant civilian aide to the Secretary of War), the men were accepted into OCS. This common military experience spawned a personal friendship between Robinson and Louis. Upon finishing OCS, Robinson was commissioned as a second lieutenant in January 1943. Shortly afterward, Robinson and Isum were formally engaged. After receiving his commission, Robinson was reassigned to Fort Hood, Texas, where he joined the 761st "Black Panthers" Tank Battalion. While at Fort Hood, 2LT Robinson often used his weekend leave to visit the Rev. Karl Downs, President of Sam Huston College (now Huston-Tillotson University) in nearby Austin, Texas; Downs had been Robinson's pastor at Scott United Methodist Church while Robinson attended PJC. An event on July 6, 1944 derailed Robinson's military career.[54] While awaiting results of hospital tests on the ankle he had injured in junior college, Robinson boarded an Army bus with a fellow officer's wife; although the Army had commissioned its own unsegregated bus line, the bus driver ordered Robinson to move to the back of the bus. Robinson refused. The driver backed down, but after reaching the end of the line, summoned the military police, who took Robinson into custody. When Robinson later confronted the investigating duty officer about racist questioning by the officer and his assistant, the officer recommended Robinson be court-martialed. After Robinson's commander in the 761st, Paul L. Bates, refused to authorize the legal action, Robinson was summarily transferred to the 758th Battalion – where the commander quickly consented to charge Robinson with multiple offenses, including, among other charges, public drunkenness – even though Robinson did not drink. By the time of the court-martial in August 1944, the charges against Robinson had been reduced to two counts of insubordination during questioning. Robinson was acquitted by an all-white panel of nine officers. Although his former unit, the 761st Tank Battalion, became the first black tank unit to see combat in World War II, Robinson's court-martial proceedings prohibited him from being deployed overseas, thus he never saw combat action. After his acquittal, he was transferred to Camp Breckinridge, Kentucky, where he served as a coach for army athletics until receiving an honorable discharge in November 1944. While there, Robinson met an ex-player for the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro American League, who encouraged Robinson to write the Monarchs and ask for a tryout. Robinson took the ex-player's advice and wrote Monarchs' co-owner Thomas Baird. Post-military After his discharge, Robinson briefly returned to his old football club, the Los Angeles Bulldogs. Robinson then accepted an offer from his old friend and pastor Rev. Karl Downs to be the athletic director at Sam Huston College in Austin, then of the Southwestern Athletic Conference. The job included coaching the school's basketball team for the 1944–45 season. As a fledgling program, few students tried out for the basketball team, and Robinson even resorted to inserting himself into the lineup for exhibition games. Although his teams were outmatched by opponents, Robinson was respected as a disciplinarian coach, and drew the admiration of, among others, Langston University basketball player Marques Haynes, a future member of the Harlem Globetrotters.

Transition

December 13, 1956: Traded by the Brooklyn Dodgers to the New York Giants for Dick Littlefield and $30000 cash. Jackie Robinson refused to report to his new team. Trade was voided and players returned on December 13, 1956.

Strengths

Baserunning — Robinson would have been very comfortable in the dead ball era, but as it was, he was a rare double threat in the National League at that time. He could hit the ball deep or steal bases.

Weaknesses

Hard to find any weaknesses.

Milestones

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 on its list of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century. Also in 1999, he ranked number 44 on the Sporting News list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and was elected to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team as the top vote-getter among second basemen. Baseball writer Bill James, in The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, ranked Robinson as the 32nd greatest player of all time strictly on the basis of his performance on the field, noting that he was one of the top players in the league throughout his career. Robinson was among the 25 charter members of UCLA’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 1984. In 2002, Molefi Kete Asante included Robinson on his list of 100 Greatest African Americans.[219] Robinson has also been honored by the United States Postal Service on three separate postage stamps, in 1982, 1999, and 2000. The City of Pasadena has recognized Robinson in several ways. Brookside Park, situated next to the Rose Bowl, features a baseball diamond and stadium named Jackie Robinson Field. The city's Human Services Department operates the Jackie Robinson Center, a community outreach center that provides early diabetes detection and other services. In 1997, a $325,000 bronze sculpture (equal to $440,453 today) by artists Ralph Helmick, Stu Schecter, and John Outterbridge depicting oversized nine-foot busts of Robinson and his brother Mack was erected at Garfield Avenue, across from the main entrance of Pasadena City Hall; a granite footprint lists multiple donors to the commission project, which was organized by the Robinson Memorial Foundation and supported by members of the Robinson family. MLB has honored Robinson many times since his death. In 1987, both the National and American League Rookie of the Year Awards were renamed the "Jackie Robinson Award" in honor of the first recipient (Robinson's Major League Rookie of the Year Award in 1947 encompassed both leagues). On April 15, 1997, Robinson's jersey number, 42, was retired by Major League Baseball; no future player on any major league team can wear it. The number was retired in ceremonies at Shea Stadium to mark the 50th anniversary of Robinson's first game with the Dodgers. A grandfather clause allowed handful of players who wore number 42 as a salute to Robinson, such as the Mets' Butch Huskey and Boston's Mo Vaughn, were allowed to continue wearing the number for as long as they stayed with their current team and did not change their number. The Yankees' Mariano Rivera is the last player in the major leagues to wear jersey number 42 on a regular basis. This marked the first time that any major American sports league retired a single number throughout the entire league, and has only been done once since then, when the National Hockey League retired Wayne Gretzky's number 99 in 2000. As an exception to the retired-number policy, MLB has recently begun honoring Robinson by allowing players to wear number 42 on April 15, Jackie Robinson Day. For the 60th anniversary of Robinson's major league debut, MLB invited players to wear the number 42 on Jackie Robinson Day in 2007. The gesture was originally the idea of outfielder Ken Griffey, Jr., who sought Rachel Robinson's permission to wear the number. After receiving her permission, Commissioner Bud Selig not only allowed Griffey to wear the number, but also extended an invitation to all major league teams to do the same. Ultimately, more than 200 players wore number 42, including the entire rosters of the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets, Houston Astros, Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals, Milwaukee Brewers, and Pittsburgh Pirates. The tribute was continued in 2008, when, during games on April 15, all members of the Mets, Cardinals, Washington Nationals, and Tampa Bay Rays wore Robinson's number 42. On June 25, 2008, MLB installed a new plaque for Robinson at the Baseball Hall of Fame commemorating his off-the-field impact on the game as well as his playing statistics. In 2009, all uniformed personnel (players, managers, coaches, and umpires) wore number 42 on April 15. At the November 2006 groundbreaking for a new ballpark for the New York Mets, Citi Field, it was announced that the main entrance, modeled on the one in Brooklyn's old Ebbets Field, would be called the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. The rotunda was dedicated at the opening of Citi Field on April 16, 2009. It honors Robinson with large quotations spanning the inner curve of the facade and features a large freestanding statue of his number, 42, which has become an attraction in itself. Mets owner Fred Wilpon announced that, in conjunction with Citigroup and the Jackie Robinson Foundation, the Mets will create a Jackie Robinson Museum and Learning Center, located at the headquarters of the Jackie Robinson Foundation at One Hudson Square in lower Manhattan. The main purpose of the museum will be to fund scholarships for "young people who live by and embody Jackie's ideals." 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 posthumously awarded Robinson the Presidential Medal of Freedom on March 26, 1984, and on March 2, 2005, President George W. Bush gave Robinson's widow the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award bestowed by Congress; Robinson was only the second baseball player to receive the award, after Roberto Clemente. 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 UCLA Bruins baseball team plays in Jackie Robinson Stadium, which, because of the efforts of Jackie's brother Mack, features a memorial statue of Robinson by sculptor Richard H. Ellis. City Island Ballpark in Daytona Beach, Florida – the baseball field that became the Dodgers' de facto spring training site in 1947 – was renamed Jackie Robinson Ballpark in 1989. The New York Public School system has named a middle school after Robinson, and Dorsey High School plays at a Los Angeles football stadium named after him. In 1976, his home in Brooklyn, the Jackie Robinson House, was declared a National Historic Landmark.[246] Robinson also has an asteroid named after him, 4319 Jackierobinson.[247] In 1997, the United States Mint issued a Jackie Robinson commemorative silver dollar, and five dollar gold coin.

Feats

In 1947 he paved the way for African-American players to advance to Major League Baseball when he debuted as the first black player in more than 50 years... On August 29, 1948, Robinson hit for the cycle... On April 23, 1954, Jackie stole second, third, and home in the same inning.

Description

Robinson was one of the best athletes of his era. He was far more than a great ballplayer, he was a world-class high-jumper, triple-jumper, runner, and he played college football.

Notes

From the May 13, 1955, New York Times: "Jackie Robinson was benched by mutual agreement with manager Smokey Alston. 'Jack talked to me last night,' said Alston, 'and we both had the same idea.' Jack, batting only .244, had suggested it might be better if he got out of the line-up for a few days, a thought that also had occurred to his manager." The Rookie of the Year Award is annually given to one player from each league as voted on by the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA). The award was established in 1940 by the Chicago chapter of the BBWAA, which selected an annual winner from 1940 through 1946. The award became national in 1947; Jackie Robinson, the Brooklyn Dodgers' first baseman, won the inaugural award. One award was presented for both leagues in 1947 and 1948; since 1949, the honor has been given to one player each in the National and American League. Originally, the award was known as the J. Louis Comiskey Memorial Award, named after the Chicago White Sox owner of the 1930s. The award was renamed the Jackie Robinson Award in July 1987, 40 years after Jackie Robinson broke the baseball color line. Of the 162 players named Rookie of the Year, 14 have been elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame—Jackie Robinson, five American League players, and eight others from the National League. The award has been shared twice: once by Butch Metzger and Pat Zachry of the National League in 1976; and once by John Castino and Alfredo Griffin of the American League in 1979. Members of the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers have won the most awards of any franchise (with 16), twice the total of the New York Yankees (eight), who have produced the most in the American League. Fred Lynn and Ichiro Suzuki are the only two players who have been named Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player in the same year, and Fernando Valenzuela is the only player to have won Rookie of the Year and the Cy Young Award in the same year. Sam Jethroe is the oldest player to have won the award, at age 32, 33 days older than 2000 winner Kazuhiro Sasaki (also 32). Chris Coghlan of the Florida Marlins and Andrew Bailey of the Oakland Athletics are the 2009 winners.

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Tagged:
1955 World Series, Branch Rickey, Brooklyn Dodgers, Color line, Ebbets Field, Jackie Robinson, Kansas City Monarchs, Montreal Expos, NL MVP 1949, Negro Leagues, Rookie of the Year Award, Second baseman, WWII

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