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Table of Contents
Jackie Robinson is best known for breaking down racial barriers in baseball when he first played for the Brooklyn Dodgers and became the first African American to play in Major League Baseball. He had numerous accomplishments during his baseball career and was enlisted into the Hall of Fame in 1962.
Read on to learn more about his life and accomplishments or alternatively download our comprehensive worksheet pack to utilize within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- Jack Roosevelt Robinson was born as the youngest child of Mallie and Jerry Robinson on January 31, 1919. In Cairo, Georgia, their family was a sharecropper.
- His father abandoned them in 1920, forcing them to relocate to Pasadena, California.
- Robinson grew up in poverty, one of the factors that led him to join a gang. Carl Anderson, one of his friends, persuaded him to leave the gang.
- Matthew, also known as Mack, his older brother, was a talented athlete. Jackie was inspired to pursue his athletic abilities by Mack, and his other brother, Frank.
- In 1935, he enrolled at John Muir High School, where he excelled in varsity sports such as baseball, basketball, football, and track.
- He won the Pacific Coast Negro Tennis Tournament in 1936. He was also named to the Pomona annual baseball tournament all-star team.
- In late January 1937, the Pasadena Star-News newspaper commended his performance even more.
- Following Junior High School, he attended Pasadena Junior College. He continued his PJC career by participating in the same sports.
- On May 7, 1938, he broke Mack’s American junior college broad-jump record with a 25 ft. 6.5 in. jump.
- He was appointed to the All-Southland Junior College Baseball Team and was titled the Most Valuable Player.
- He joined the Lancers, a police organization run by PJC students. He also gained attention for being impatient with authorities, believing them to be racist. He was arrested on January 25, 1938, after arguing with the police officers who had detained his Black friend. Despite his reputation for combating racial discrimination, he was suspended for two years.
- Rev. Karl Downs encouraged him to attend church, and Robinson entrusted him greatly.
- Frank was killed in a motorcycle accident shortly before leaving PJC. It piqued Jackie’s desire to continue his athletic career at the University of California, Los Angeles.
- He was the first UCLA student-athlete to earn four varsity letters in different sports.
- He met his future wife, Rachel Isum, during his senior year at UCLA.
- He applied to the National Youth Administration in Atascadero, California, for the position of assistant athletic director.
- He served in the army until November 1944. He returned to his football club, the Los Angeles Bulldogs, after being discharged.
- He accepted Rev. Karl Downs’ offer to be the athletic director at Samuel Huston College. He developed a reputation as a disciplinary coach, which others admired.
- The Kansas City Monarchs offered him $400 per month to play in the America-African leagues in 1945. His time in the America-African leagues was unpleasant due to disorganization and gambling. His hectic schedule harmed his relationship with Isum.
- The major league Boston Red Sox held a tryout in April 1945, but it was just a show put on by Councilman Isadore H. Y. Muchnick. Robinson was humiliated during his tryouts.
- Other major league teams were more interested in acquiring a Black player. Branch Rickey of the Brooklyn Dodgers became interested in Robinson and convinced him that reacting angrily on racial issues would harm the game. He agreed, and the contract was signed for $600 per month.
- On October 23, 1945, Robinson officially joined the Dodgers. He was given the 1946 season. He was not the best Black player who crossed the color line that year, but he was the most notable, and many Black players envied him for it.
- In 1946, he went to Daytona Beach, Florida for spring training, where his presence was met with controversy due to the city’s racial segregation. Because he was not permitted to stay in hotels with his white teammates, he stayed at the residence of Joe and Dufferin Harris, a politically active African American couple. The Dodgers did not organize the training and could simply accept the facility’s refusal to events involving Robinson and the other Black player.
- After several discussions and refusals, he made his debut on March 17, 1946, in a game hosted by the Royals.
- In 1947, he was called up by the Dodgers for the major leagues. On April 11, he made his first public appearance in a Dodgers uniform, wearing number 42. On April 15, he made his major league debut in front of approximately 26,600 spectators, more than half of whom were Black.
- His promotion drew various responses from newspapers and even white players. His Dodger teammates said they would rather sit on the bench than play with him. Manager Leo Durocher broke the tension by telling the team about Robinson’s value as a player. Many baseball fans booed and insulted him, and some even threw batteries at him.
- Despite being targeted by rough physical plays, he performed admirably in the major leagues and was awarded the Major League Baseball Rookie of the Year.
- In 1951, three of the four National League players who were most frequently hit by pitches were Black. According to records, he was hit by a pitch 72 times from his debut to his retirement.
- He became the league’s Most Valuable Player in 1949, which helped the Dodgers’ reputation.
- In the 1955 World Series, he played a key role in the team’s victory over the Yankees.
- By 1956, his diabetes was affecting his performance and discouraging him from continuing to play.
- After the 1956 season, he retired from baseball and became an executive for Chock full o’Nuts. His retirement, however, was announced in Look Magazine rather than by the Dodgers’ management.
- His marriage with Rachel Isum in 1946 gave them three children. His family became his emotional support from the pressure of his early career up to his retirement.
- In 1964, he became the co-founder of the Freedom National Bank in Harlem, which later on grew into one of the largest banks owned by Black in the US.
- As he aged, he suffered from diabetes and heart disease complications, which almost blinded him. On October 24, 1972, he died due to a heart attack at his home in Stamford, Connecticut.
- He believed that players must always beware of the game until the final out is recorded as he said, “Baseball is like a poker game. Nobody wants to quit when he’s losing; nobody wants you to quit when you’re ahead.”
- His personality and nonviolent approach, combined with his talent, changed the traditional basis of segregation that exists in other sports and aspects of American life.
- His accomplishments and contributions extend far beyond the baseball field. After retiring, Robinson worked tirelessly to improve society’s overall quality of life. He continued to work not only for African-Americans, but for all Americans.
- Since his death, Major League Baseball has honored Robinson numerous times. In honor of the first recipient, the National and American League Rookie of the Year Awards were renamed the “Jackie Robinson Award” in 1987.
- Jackie Robinson’s life and legacy will go down in American history as one of the most significant. The world commemorated the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking Major League Baseball’s color barrier in 1997.
- This was to remember and honor the man who stood defiantly against those who worked against racial equality, as well as the profound impact of one man’s life on American culture.
Jackie Robinson Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle that includes everything you need to know about Jackie Robinson across 22 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use worksheets that are perfect for teaching about Jackie Robinson, who went on to be the first African American professional baseball player to play in Major League Baseball in the modern era.
Download includes the following worksheets:
- Jackie Robinson Facts
- Player Profile
- Becoming Top-Notch
- Racism in Baseball
- Movie: 42
- Cartoon Jackie
- Jackie Robinson Day
- In Jackie’s Mind
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is Jackie Robinson remembered as unique?
Jackie Robinson was the first African American to break the baseball color line. He achieved this when he appeared on the field for the National League Brooklyn Dodgers on 15 April 1947 in a game against the Boston Braves.
Did Jackie Robinson play other sports?
Jackie Robinson was very athletic and excelled at many other sports, including basketball (as a forward and a guard), in track events, and as a long jumper in field events. He also did well in tennis in his younger years.
Was Jackie Robinson married with children?
Jackie Robinson married his college sweetheart Rachel Isum on 10 February 1946, and they had three children, two sons, David and Jackie Jr, and a daughter Sharon.
How old was Jackie Robinson when he died?
Jackie Robinson was only 53 years old when he died on 24 October 1972 after suffering a heart attack.
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Link will appear as Jackie Robinson Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, August 15, 2017
Use With Any Curriculum
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