This week, 66 years ago, Jackie Robinson broke the baseball color barrier to become the first African American to play on a major sports team by joining the Brooklyn Dodgers. Aside from Robinson’s obvious cultural impact, he was an exceptionally talented baseball player.
Here are some interesting facts you may not know about Jackie Robinson:
- Jackie Robinson was born in Cairo, Georgia and moved shortly after his birth to Pasadena, California.
- His middle name, Roosevelt, was a nod to President Theodore Roosevelt.
- Not only was Robinson a gifted baseball player, he also excelled at tennis, basketball, track, and football. In fact, he was the first athlete at UCLA to letter in four sports, but famously said that baseball was his “worst” sport.
- In 1947, he won Rookie of the Year with a batting average of .297, 175 hits, 12 home runs, and 48 runs batted in.
- He went on to be a six time All-Star between 1949 and 1954.
- In 1962, Robinson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
- His number, 42, was retired from the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1972. In 1997, the number 42 was retired throughout Major League Baseball. This was the first and only time a number was retired throughout an entire professional league.
- In 1984, Ronald Reagan awarded Robinson with the Presidential Medal of Freedom – the highest award given to a civilian for their contributions to world peace, cultural, or other significant public or private endeavors. In 2005, George W. Bush awarded Robinson with theCongressional Gold Medal – the highest honor the legislative branch can bestow on a civilian.