1.Birth, Early Childhood, Career
Jack Roosevelt Robinson was born in 1919 in Cairo, Georgia. His parents were share croppers. At age 21, Jackie broke color barriers to become the 1st African America to finish Major League Baseball. He later won MLB’s Rookie of the Year award in 1947 and had a successful career as a television analyst, a ball player, a civil rights champion and businessman.
2.Jackie’s Brother was an Olympic Silver Medalist
Jackie’s elder brother, Mack was a super sprinter who served in the track team in Pasadena Junior college. Mack had a heart condition but managed to clinch a spot in the United States’ Olympic team. He finished in second place after Jesse Owens in a 200 meter race in Berlin during the 1936 games. Later, Jackie broke the record set by Mack in long jump and was looking to compete in the Olympics in 1940 before the games were cancelled due to World War II.
3.Jackie was an accomplished Athlete
Jackie became the very first student in UCLA to letter in 4 distinct sports in one season. He excelled in basketball, baseball, football and in track and field where he did long jump. He also played tennis and won several amateur titles during summer. Jackie later got his initial checks as an athlete paying for Los Angeles Bulldogs and the Honolulu Bears. He kept nurturing his sporting talent till he started the Major League Baseball career.
4.Jackie was Friends with Boxer Joe Louis
After the Pearl Harbor bombing, Jackie joined the army and was posted at Fort Riley’s cavalry unit in Kansas. He became friends with Joe Louis, who also a recruit during the basic training. Joe, then known as ‘the Brown Bomber’ had bested German’s Max Schmeling in a 1938 politically charged bout. Jackie and Joe played golf together. Later, Joe used his prestige to get Jackie and a few other black soldiers to gain entry into the Army Officer Candidate School following denial of admission due to race.
5.Between ages 21 and 26, Jackie Played no Baseball
Jackie’s prime baseball years were interrupted by the Second World War. He did not play any organized baseball games as he was busy with military service and pro football career. Jackie only spent a single season at the Negro Leagues before he was selected to the Major League Baseball to break the color barrier.
Jackie faced constant racial discrimination after joining the minor’s team as the 1st black player. Numerous teams cancelled their exhibition games so he wouldn’t play. He was jeered by fellow players and fans and made fun of. Some players signed petition to remove him from their squad.
7.Testified before a Congressional Board
Jackie was called upon to testify before the Congressional board inquiring activities of suspected subversives and sympathizers in 1949 amidst controversy surrounding Paul Robeson, a black actor and singer. Jackie denounced racism evils and denounced communism in his speech.
Jackie received many death threats. In 1951, FBI investigated an eminent threat where ‘Three Travelers’ posted letters to the Cincinnati Reds, the police and a local newspaper pledging to shot Jackie as soon as he got into the field for a game played in Ohio. Jackie played the game and drove a home run over at the middle field fence.
9.Starred in a Movie
Jackie became one of the first black on big screen in 1950 when he acted as himself in ‘The Jackie Robinson Story’ film in Hollywood.
10.Supported Richard Nixon
Having retired in 1957 from baseball, Jackie got into civil rights movement and an active political voice. He toured the U.S campaigning for Richard Nixon in the 1960 presidential election.