Robinson, Jackie (1919-72), American athlete and business executive. He was born Jack Roosevelt Robinson in Cairo, Georgia. He attended Pasadena Junior College (now Pasadena City College) in California and the University of California, Los Angeles. As an undergraduate, Robinson excelled in football, basketball, baseball, and track. He left college in 1941 in his junior year and shortly thereafter joined the U.
Discharged early in 1945 with the rank of first lieutenant, Robinson signed a contract to play professional baseball with the Monarchs, a Kansas City, Missouri, team of the Negro American League. Later in 1945 Robinson signed with Branch Rickey, general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, to play with the minor league Royals in Montral. After one season with the Royals, Robinson joined the Brooklyn team and became the first black to play modern major league baseball. From 1947 to 1956, mostly as a second baseman, Robinson batted .
311 in 1382 games. He was also a daring baserunner. In 1962 Robinson was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, the first black player so honored.
After leaving baseball, Robinson was vice president of a restaurant chain in New York City. From 1964 to 1968 he served as special assistant for civil rights to Governor Nelson Rockefeller of New York. Robinson starred in the motion picture The Jackie Robinson Story (1950) and was the author, with Alfred Duckett, of I Never Had It Made (1972)
ROBINSON, Jackie (1919-72).
The first black player in either of the major baseball leagues was Jackie Robinson. He broke the color barrier in 1947, two years after he was signed by Branch Rickey, president of the Brooklyn (now Los Angeles) Dodgers.
Jack Roosevelt Robinson was born in Cairo, Ga., on Jan. 31, 1919. He grew up in Pasadena, Calif.
In high school and at Pasadena Junior College he demonstrated great athletic skill in track, basketball, football, and baseball. He continued to excel in sports at the University of California at Los Angeles. He left school in 1941 and was drafted the following year for Army service during World War II. After receiving a medical discharge in 1945, he spent a year playing baseball with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro National League. His outstanding play brought him to the attention of Rickey, who handpicked him as the man most likely to succeed in overcoming the racism prevalent in the sport. He played the 1946 season with the Montreal Royals, a Dodgers farm club, and led the International League in hitting with a .
349 average. He stole 40 bases and scored 113 runs.
When the Dodgers opened their 1947 season, Robinson was playing second base. An immediate success, he led the National League in stolen bases and was named rookie of the year. The chief problem he had to overcome was controlling his fiery temper in the face of continual racial slurs from the crowds and other ball players, including his own teammates. In 1949, with a .
342 average, he was named the most valuable player in the league. He was one of the game’s best base runners, with a total of 197 stolen bases.
The Dodgers won six National League pennants during Robinson’s ten playing years. He retired from baseball in 1956 with a lifetime batting average of .311. He was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962, the first black player to be so honored.
After retirement he became a vice-president of a New York restaurant firm and the president of a land-development company. He also worked with drug-prevention programs. Robinson died suddenly on Oct. 24, 1972, in Stamford, Conn. .