Jackie Robinson Facts on His 100th Birthday Anniversary

jackie robinson first base
American baseball player Jackie Robinson grounds a ball at first place while warming up for an exhibition game against the New York Yankees, Ebbets Field, New York, 1950s. Hulton|Archive/Getty Images

Thursday marked what would have been the 100th birthday of famed baseball player Jackie Robinson. A natural athlete, Robinson played football, baseball, basketball and ran track during his years at the University of California Los Angeles. But it was baseball that he stuck with.

Robinson made history for many things but one of the most notable was that he was the first black man to play baseball in the major leagues, according to Britannica. He was first signed to play on the Dodgers farm team and moved up to the major league for his first game with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.

Though he played well and was named Rookie of the Year he still faced significant backlash and racism from those on and off the field, some of it was even from his own teammates. During his career with the Dodgers, he was on several all-star teams and was named Most Valuable Player.

His jersey number, 42, was retired in 2009, 50 years after he first joined the league. Robinson died at the age of 53 of a heart attack.

Nine facts about star baseball player Jackie Robinson:

  • In 1942 Robinson enlisted in the U.S. Army and was made a second lieutenant. While in the military he was court-martialed for refusing to sit in the back of the military bus.
  • After his baseball career he was highly involved in civil rights activism and even spoke with Martin Luther King Jr.
  • While at UCLA, Robinson was the first student-athlete to ever play four sports at the varsity level at the school.
  • Robinson married a woman he met while at UCLA named Rachel Isum and together the two had three children together.
  • A stamp with Robinson on it was made to honor him in 1997.
  • Robinson also has his own newspaper column.
  • Robinson and his brother were born in Georgia where their parents were sharecroppers but they moved to California shortly after Jackie was born.
  • Robinson actually shared a birthday with other baseball Hall of Fame members Ernie Banks and Nolan Ryan, according to the Hall of Fame.
  • Robinson was traded from the Dodgers to the Giants but decided to instead end his career and not play with the new team.