Friday, April 11, 2014

Jackie Robinson Makes Debut

On April 11, 1947, Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson becomes the first African-American to play in modern major-league baseball when he debuted for the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Robinson, as the first black man to play in the major leagues since the 1880s, was instrumental in bringing an end to racial segregation in professional baseball, which had relegated black players to the Negro leagues for six decades.
Jackie Robinson in 1950 as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers.

The example of his character and unquestionable talent challenged the traditional basis of segregation, which then marked many other aspects of American life, and contributed, significantly to the Civil Rights Movement.

Robinson’s career featured playing time in over ten seasons. He played in six World Series and contributed to the Dodgers' 1955 World Championship.

He was selected for six consecutive All-Star Games from 1949 to 1954, was the recipient of the inaugural MLB Rookie of the Year Award in 1947, and won the National League Most Valuable Player Award in 1949—the first black player so honored.

His career saw him put up great numbers hitting .311 batting average, 1,518 hits, 137 home runs, 734 RBIs and 197 stolen bases.

Robinson was one of only two players during the span of 1947–56 to accumulate at least 125 steals while registering a slugging percentage over .425 (Minnie MiƱoso was the other).

Defensively, Robinson was an outstanding fielder throughout his ten years in the major leagues and at virtually every position he played.

After playing his rookie season at first base, Robinson spent most of his career as a second baseman.

He led the league in fielding among second basemen in 1950 and 1951.

Toward the end of his career, he played about 2,000 innings at third base and about 1,175 innings in the outfield, excelling at both.

Robinson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.

In 1997, Major League Baseball "universally" retired his uniform number, 42, across all major league teams; he was the first pro athlete in any sport to be so honored. Since that time, Major League Baseball has adopted a new annual tradition, "Jackie Robinson Day," in which all players on all teams wear no. 42.

The movie poster for "42."
Robinson was also known for his pursuits outside the baseball diamond. He was the first black television analyst in Major League Baseball, and the first black vice-president of a major American corporation. In the 1960s, he helped establish the Freedom National Bank, an African-American-owned financial institution based in Harlem, New York. In recognition of his achievements on and off the field, Robinson was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.

Last year the movie “42” based on Robinson’s life and baseball career debuted.