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Definition: Robinson, Jackie from Chambers Biographical Dictionary


John Roosevelt Robinson


US baseball player

Born in Cairo, Georgia, he was the first black player to play major league baseball. After World War II he became a star infielder and outfielder for the Brooklyn Dodgers (1947-56). Known for his fierce competitiveness and skill at stealing home plate, he led the Dodgers to six National League pennants and one World Series victory (1955). He was Rookie of the Year in 1947, and in 1949 he was league batting champion and was named Most Valuable Player (MVP). He retired in 1956 with a lifetime batting average of .311. He was largely responsible for the acceptance of black athletes in professional sports, and wrote of the pressures on him in his autobiography I Never Had It Made (1972).

Summary Article: Robinson, Jackie
From The Columbia Encyclopedia

(Jack Roosevelt Robinson), 1919–72, American baseball player, the first African-American player in the modern major leagues, b. Cairo, Ga. He grew up in Pasadena, Calif., where he became an outstanding athlete in high school and junior college. While attending (1939–41) the Univ. of California at Los Angeles, he established a wide reputation in baseball, basketball, football, and track.

Robinson left college to support his mother, but in 1941 played professional football with the Los Angeles Bulldogs of the Pacific Coast League. He entered the army in World War II and was discharged as a lieutenant in 1945. In Oct., 1945, Branch Rickey, then president of the Brooklyn Dodgers, signed Robinson to play for the Montreal Royals, a Brooklyn farm club in the International League. Despite several incidents in spring training in the South and many inconveniences during the season, Robinson—the first African-American ballplayer in that league—excelled as a second baseman and won the league batting crown.

In 1947 precedent was shattered when Robinson was brought up to the Brooklyn club. African Americans had not played in big-league competition in the 20th cent., but resistance dwindled as Robinson excelled. In 1949 he won the National League batting crown, hitting .342, and was named the NL's most valuable player. Robinson played his entire career (1947–56) with Brooklyn, where he set fielding and batting records and gained a reputation for base stealing. Other African Americans began playing in the major leagues soon after his debut. In 1962 Robinson became the first African American to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

  • See his autobiography (1972);.
  • Tygiel, J. , Baseball's Great Experiment (1983) and Extra Bases (2002);.
  • Rampersad, A. , Jackie Robinson (1997);.
  • Simon, S. , Jackie Robinson and the Integration of Baseball (2002);.
  • Eig, J. , Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson's First Season (2007).
The Columbia Encyclopedia, © Columbia University Press 2018

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