Jack Roosevelt Robinson, otherwise known as Jackie Robinson, was born in 1919 to sharecropping parents living in Cairo, Georgia. In 1920, Jackie’s father left the family and his mother moved him and his siblings to Pasadena, California. Because Jackie was African American, he experience a good share of racism and exclusion from various activities throughout his childhood. However, this never stopped Jackie from fostering his passion for sports.
Despite his childhood struggles with racism and poverty, Jackie Robinson went on to become the first African American to play professional baseball. He started with the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947 and played first base. Signing Jackie Robinson to the Dodgers officially ended segregation in Major League Baseball, which has been in place since the 1880s.
Over the next 10 years, Jackie Robinson had a stellar baseball career, earning himself the MLB Rookie of the Year award in 1947 and all-star status in 1949 through 1954. In 1949, Jackie won the National League Most Valuable Player Award and was the first black player to earn it. Jackie played in a total of six World Series Games, including the Dodgers World Series win in 1955. In 1997, Jackie’s number 42 was officially retired by Major League Baseball and in 2004, Jackie Robinson day was declared a holiday and every current player wears number 42.
His illustrious baseball career was just one of Jackie Robinson’s contributions to his community and the world around him. Jackie was a major supporter of the Civil Rights Movement. Before entering Major League baseball, Jackie served in the segregated Army cavalry, based in Fort Riley, Kansas. He was later accepted into Officer Candidate School and served in several regiments of the army thereafter. Unfortunately, a racial incident on the bus meant that Jackie later got a couple of marks against him for subordination.
On January 5, 1957, Jackie Robinson officially retired from baseball, but didn’t stop leaving a legacy behind him. He later served as an analyst for ABC’s Major League Baseball Game of the Week, being the first black person to do so. He also kept up with politics and used his influence to help black people all over America get their rights under the Constitution.
Jackie Robinson also had a family, including his wife Rachel and three children. After the birth of one his sons in a car accident, Jackie became involved in the anti-drug crusade to help other families learn about the dangers of drug use and prevent other parents from having to lose their children.
On October 24, 1972, Jackie Robinson died due to complications from heart disease and diabetes. His cause of death was ruled a heart attack and he was 53 years old when he died. Jackie’s funeral brought in 2,500 mourners and Revered Jesse Jackson gave the eulogy at the funeral, which was filled with previous baseball teammates. Jackie was buried in Cypress Hill Cemetery in Brooklyn, next to his mother and son. The world lost a legend that day, but his name lives on even to this day.
After his death, Rachel Robinson started the Jackie Robinson Foundation, which carries on the famous baseball player’s legacy to this day. Many books have been authored about Jackie Robinson and the influence he had on the world is evident anytime people talk about the former baseball great.
After his death, Jackie Robinson was memorialized on postage stamps in 1982, 1999 and 2000. His name is also used on many highways, ballparks and museums across the United States. He might have born a humble sharecroppers son, but Jackie Robinson went on to change the world for the world of baseball and those who love the sport.