We couldn’t let today pass without a tribute to the late, great, American baseball legend, Jackie Robinson.
It was 100 years ago today, January 31, 1919, in Cairo, Georgia, that the first African-American to become a professional major league baseball player (for the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1947-1956) was born. His full name was Jack Roosevelt Robinson. *
Robinson was the grandson of slaves and his family were poor farmers, wrote Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce in a volume of their Magic Tree House Fact Tracker series entitled “Baseball.”
“No one could have guessed that this African American baby would grow up to change the history of baseball. But Jackie didn’t just change baseball; he helped change the way many people thought about equal rights and freedom,” they wrote.
After playing in the “Negro leagues” Robinson caught the eye of the president of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Branch Rickey. Rickey “took a chance and asked Jackie to join the Dodgers…,” the women continued.
Despite threats, verbal and sometimes physical abuse, Robinson maintained his composure in a sport that had been played by white men. Respect from whites came slowly and Robinson began to acquire a fan base, they wrote.
Eventually other teams also began signing great black players.
Robinson was voted the “National League’s Most Valuable Player” in 1949 and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.” *
His post-play resume included business interests and a devotion to civil rights.
The beloved humanitarian died in Stamford, Connecticut, on October 24, 1972.*
*From “2018 Chase’s Calendar of Events.”