Jackie Robinson was one of the best players that proffesional baseball has
ever seen and greatly helped major league baseball accept African American
players that otherwise would not have palyed.
Jack Roosevelt Robinson was born January 31, 1919 in Cairo, Georgia
(Hill 1). Jackies grandfather was a slave and his father a sharecropper (1). His
mom and dad got a divorce when Jackie was just a baby (1). He, his mother and
four siblings moved after his parents got a divorce (1). His mother took all the
children and moved to Pasedena, California (1).
Not long after the family moved to Pasedena, Jackies mother enrolled him
into Pasedena Junior College (Robinson, Jackie). He went on to University of
California at Los Angeles (UCLA) (1). Jackie was a standout in school sports at
UCLA, he played football, baseball, basketball, and track (1). He later left
college in the middle of his junior year to join the Army in 1941 (1). Four years
after entering the Army Jackie was discharged because of a confrentation with
another officer when he would not give up his seat on a military bus (1). He was
discharged as a first Lieutenant (1).
After leaving the Army Jackie wanted to play baseball, his favorite sport.
He tried out for many teams and was drafted by the Kansas City Monarchs
Negro League Team (Hill 1). The Negro League schedule was very tuff. The
team was always on the road playing games. Jackie did not like the life style of
being on the Monarchs (Robinson, Jackie). He and his teammates would have
to withstand the racial tensions everywhere they went (Ward, Burns 285) .
While Jackie was playing in the Negro Leagues, Branch Rickey, the Los
Angeles Dodgers manager was secretly sending out scouts to look at Jackie and
other players in the Negro leagues that stood out above the rest fo their baseball
talent (Hill 1). Rickey made the excuse to the scouts that he wanted to put
together an all black baseball team called the Brown Dodgers (2). He was
really looking for the right black player that would break the color barrier in
professional baseball (1). Rickey looked at all his options and he chose Jackie
Robinson of the Kansas City Monarchs (1). He chose Jackie because of his
skills in baseball and his courage (1).
Branch and Jackie met on August 28, 1945 to discuss his signing to the
LA Dodgers (1). The meeting was very important because rickey wanted to
make sure Robinson would not retaliate against the racist comments that he will
be facing if he was moved up to the LA Dodgers (2). Rickey sent Robinson to
the semi-professional team the Dodgers had, the Montreal Royals (Robinson,
Jackie). While Robinson was with the Royals, he was he was an athletic
standout with a lot of talent for playing professional baseball (Hill 1). He enjoyed
playing on the Montreal Royals because race was not really an issue in Canada
and he was very popular all over the country (Robinson, Jackie). He led the
Royals to the minor league championship (Rydell 86).
The next season Robinson got moved up to the Los Angeles Dodgers
professional team late in spring training, only five days before the Dodgers first
game (86). This gave the critics not much time to react to the new player in the
league (86). On April 15, 1947 Jackie became the first black player to play
major league baseball in the United States (87). Robinsons moving to the team
caused national outrage between coaches, teams, and fans (87). His new
teammates signed a petition to get him off the team just because he was black
(Ward, Burns 283). The general managers and head coaches of the Dodgers
including Branch Rickey and Pee Wee Reese kept him on the team and
encouraged him to stay and ignore the racial slurs and name calling (Ward,
Burns 283). Other teams tried to boycott, but it did not work (Rydell 86).
Robinsons first games were the hardest (86). He had many death threats made
against him (Robinson, Jackie). The hotels that Robinson went to with the
team would not serve him because blacks were not allowed (Robinson,
Jackie). Even though he would not get served at restaurants and hotels, he
always kept his composier and never lost his temper (Ward, Burns 283).
Robinson was always called names but he just ignored them and took a
non-violent approach to the situation (Robinson, Jackie).
After many games Robinson started winning the respect of his fellow
teammates, other teams, and fans by not fighting back (Rydell 86). Not only was
Robinson the only black player in the major leagues, but he was also one of the
best. Stadiums filled with record numbers of fans came to watch him play
baseball (Hill 2). By the end of his first year, he was a major league superstar
(1). Robinson led the majors in stolen bases and was second in scored runs (1).
He was voted Rookie of the Year for the 1948 season (2).
Robinson had a very successful baseball career. He proved all of his
critics wrong, they said Rickey only wanted him because he was black and not
how well he could play baseball (Rydell 87). He proved his critics wrong the
very first game he played with the LA Dodgers(87). He had four hits, including
one homerun and two stolen bases (87). After his spectacular first game
Robinson started getting death threats, but ignored them and he kept on playing
After leading a successful career in baseball Robinson retired from the
game in 1957 (Ward, Burns 289). The LA Dodgers also retired his number
(Ward, Burns 289). He opened a chain of restaurants in New York and moved
on to persue another dream, to help other black people become successful like
he did (Hill 2). He first joined the National Association for the Advancement of
Colored People (NAACP) and was on the board of directors (Ward, Burns 289).
In 1963 he started getting involved with the civil rights movement (Enders 1).
Robinson teamed up with Martin Luther King Jr. and went to Birmingham,
Alabama to speak out against racism. King and Robinson went to many
gatherings around the Birmingham area to speak out against racism (Enders 1).
The two had a very hard time getting people together to speak to them because
of all the violence that was happening as a result of the racist south and the
black movement (Enders 2). In 1963, while Robinson and King were going from
church to church speaking they learned that an NAACP officer Medgar Evers
was murdered (2). Shortly after the murder Robinson sent a letter to President
John F. Kennedy asking him to give Martin Luther King secret service protection
(3). Kennedy gave them the protection and later on August 28, 1963 Robinson
took his family to see Martin Luther Kings famous I have a dream speech (3).
Later in 1964, the Governor of New York and Republican presidential
candidate Nelson Rockefeller asked Robinson if he wanted to be one of his
campaign directors (3). He worked on the campaign for a short while until
Rockefeller lost Barry Goldwater (3). In 1967 while Robinson was getting angry
with the NAACP and he resigned because he thought they were not radical
enough to take charge of the movement (3).
While Robinson was still very frustrated and not satisfied with the way
things were going, he got a call from Hubert Humphery. He was a presidential
candidate from Minnesota. Humphery asked Robinson to campaign along side
him and give speeches about the black rights movement. But Humphery lost to
Richard Nixon (3). One reason why the two candidates that Robinson went with
ended up losing was because America still did not like politicians that helped
black people and that went along with their views (4). After the elections time
was wearing down Robinson and he went back home to live with his family (4).
At his old age Robinson had endured a lot of pain. Many of the close friends he
had and family members had died including, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther
King and Malcom X who were all assassinated. Also his mother Mallie, Branch
Rickey, and his son Jackie Junior who died in a car accident at the age of 24
(Hill 2). Near the end his life, Robinson was invited to throw the first pitch of the
1972 World Series. He died of a heart attack ten days later at the age of 53 (2).
Jackie Robinson was a great baseball player and an equally great civil
rights leader. Although he never got to see the integration of black people in the
United States, his efforts helped a lot of people. He was one of the great
American heroes and is an American legend. His courage gave the strength to
other black athletes to persue their dreams.
Jackie Robinson was one of the best players that professional baseball has
ever seen and greatly helped major league baseball accept African American
players that otherwise would not have played.
I. Early Years
2. Son of a Share Cropper
1. Pasadena Junior College
1. Baseball favorite
2. Excelled in four sports
1. LA Dodgers
A. Civil Movement
1. Martin Luther King
2. Birmingham, Alabama
1. On board of directors
V. Later Years
2. Heart Problems
B.Deaths of loved ones
1. three friends assassinated
2. Family members
Robinson, Jackie Computer Software. Encarta. Microsoft Corporation,
Rydell, Wendell. Sports Greats Past and Present. New York:
Interlyth, LTD. 1974: 86-87
Enders, Eric. Jackie Robinson and the Civil Rights Movement.
Hill, Gary. Jackie Robinson was Never Satisfied.
Ward, Geoffry C.; Burns, Ken. Baseball an Illustrated Encyclopedia. New York:
Alfred A. Knopf, 1994