Skip to Main Content

Jackie Robinson: About

Jackie Robinson

Watch Videos

Who was Jackie Robinson?

Jackie Robinson was an African American professional baseball player who broke Major Leagues Baseball’s infamous “color barrier” when he started at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947. Until that time, professional ballplayers of color suited up for teams only in the Negro Leagues. Today, April 15th is observed as Jackie Robinson Day throughout MLB franchises, with players wearing the former Dodgers’ jersey number 42. Robinson’s dazzling athletic prowess and grace under pressure effectively led to the integration of the Major Leagues, and his 10-year career with the Dodgers — and his outspoken activism in his later years — helped set the stage for the burgeoning civil rights movement.

His debut with the Dodgers in 1947 was greeted with a lot of attention—not all of it positive. Although Robinson quickly proved he belonged as a player, the color of his skin was an issue for opposing teams and fans. Hearing racist taunts from fans and players prior to a game, Dodgers teammate Pee Wee Reese is said to have put his arm around Robinson on the field to indicate that he was accepted by those wearing a Brooklyn uniform. Still, Robinson endured racist obscenities, hate mail and death threats for much of his career.

It was his play in the field that ultimately silenced his critics. In 1947, his first year with the Dodgers, he earned the inaugural “Rookie of the Year” award. Despite having been signed by the Dodgers at the relatively old age of 28, Robinson would go on to hit .311 over a 10-year career. He became the first Black player to win the National League Most Valuable Player Award in 1949, when he led the league in hitting with a .342 average, most stolen bases (37) and achieving career-high 124 RBI. Robinson was an All Star every year from 1949-1954. He led Brooklyn to a World Series championship over the rival New York Yankees in 1956. Continue reading from History

From the Collection

Link to Jackie Robinson (film) in Hoopla
Link to 42 Faith by Ed Henry in the catalog
Link to The Jackie Robinson Story (film) in Hoopla
Link to Jackie Robinson by Rachel Robinson in the catalog
Link to 42 the Jackie Robinson story (film) in the catalog
Link to Jackie Robinson: My Own Story by Jackie Robinson and Wendell Smith in Hoopla
Link to 42 Today by Michael G. Long in the catalog

Link to Revolutionary Biographies Resource Guide Series