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19 Interesting Facts About Jackie Robinson You Might Not Know

Jackie Robinson was one of best baseball players ever. He made history in 1947 when he started playing his professional carrier with Brooklyn Dodgers.

There are many interesting facts about jackie robinson. But let’s start with his biography and career.

Jackie Robinson Facts and Biography

jackie robinson facts

His Life began on January 31st 1919 in Cairo Georgia; Jackie Robinson was the youngest of 5 siblings and was raised by his mother after his father left his mother with the children. About the year after Jackie was born the family moved to California. Once there Jackie followed his older brother Mac into the athletics. His brother was a shining star and for Jackie it was also the same. He loved playing football, baseball, tennis and basket ball.

When it came to getting an education, Jackie went to  UCLA. There he was a star player in: Track and Field, Basketball, Football and Baseball, and was the first to earn an NCAA national championship in the long jump, while he was in college.

Some interesting words from Jackie Robinson:

I never cared about acceptance as much as i cared about RESPECT 

After graduating the college, Jackie Robinson went on to play professional football but he did not play long because WORLD WAR 2 started and he joined the army.

After spending time in the army, Jackie returned but did not go back to football. He actually went back to play Baseball and started playing for the Negro League team called the “Kansas City Monarchs”. 

Jackie Robinson was the first African American to play in major league baseball. The general manager of the Brooklyn dodgers, Branch Rickey, approached Jackie Robinson to play in the major league. On April 15, 1947, he became a first African American to play baseball in the major leagues.

During his 10 years in the major leagues, he was named to the all star team 6 times. Over the next 10 years Jackie was one of the best baseball players in the major leagues.

19 Interesting facts about Jackie Robinson

1. Jackie Robinson Was Named After Theodore Roosevelt

jackie robinson facts

Jackie Robinson was born Jack Roosevelt Robinson, the youngest of five children in a lower-middle class family in Georgia in 1919. Robinson got his middle name from President Theodore Roosevelt, who died shortly before Robinson was born.

One year after Jackie Robinson was born, his father left the family and his mother moved the Jackie and his siblings to California. This is one of the first Jackie Robinson facts that tells us about the challenges he overcame growing up.

Jackie Robinson’s mother, Mallie Robinson, was a hard-working single mom. She worked a number of jobs to support Jackie and his brothers and sisters. Jackie Robinson faced segregation growing up in Pasadena, California, and was banned from participating in many activities.

2. His Brother Raced with Jesse Owens in the 1936 Olympics

interesting facts about jackie robinson

Jackie Robinson and his brothers must have chased each other around a lot, because they were all fast! Jackie’s older brother, Matthew “Mack” Robinson, was a silver medalist in the 1936 Olympics for the 200-meter sprint.

Mack Robinson finished second at the 1936 Olympics to Jesse Owens! This is one of the surprising and interesting Jackie Robinson facts. Jesse Owens’ gold medal wins at the 1936 Olympics were an important message to Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany.

The Germans were practicing segregation, and the series of events that would lead to World War 2 and the Holocaust had already begun. Jesse Owens was aware of this and became a symbol to the world that people of all races are equal.

Jesse Owens’ victory was especially important to the Black community at a time when most Black people in the United States continued to face legal and cultural segregation. There is no doubt that this must have had an impact on Jackie Robinson’s character and on his decision to use sports as a way of spreading a message of equality.

3. Jackie Robinson Was Arrested in 1938

jackie robinson facts

In 1938, while Jackie Robinson was excelling as an athlete and displaying his character through community involvement, he began to come to terms with the racism that existed in the United States at the time.

It’s another one of the inspiring Jackie Robinson facts that he did not sit back and accept the racism he saw, but stood up for what he thought was right. Robinson was arrested for arguing with a police officer over the arrest of a Black friend.

Thankfully, his sentence was suspended and Robinson did not serve any significant prison time. However, he was beginning to be noticed for more than his athletic abilities. People saw Robinson as someone who was not afraid to speak out about racism when he witnessed it, and who was prepared to stand up for what he thought was right. This is one of the important Jackie Robinson facts for kids.

4. He Was Arrested Again in 1944

jackie robinson facts

What happened next in Robinson’s military career is another one of the Jackie Robinson facts that tells us about his struggle for equal treatment. In 1944, Jackie Robinson was getting on an Army bus when he was told to get to the back of the bus. The Army busses were not legally segregated like the busses in Montgomery, Alabama, where Rosa Parks would protest unequal treatment.

Jackie Robinson, like Rosa Parks, refused to move to the back of the bus. There was no legal requirement for him to do so. He was a soldier willing to give his life for his country, like any other soldier. Robinson wasn’t challenging any laws; he was challenging the culture of racism that existed in the United States in the 1940s.

These are some of the most interesting facts about Jackie Robinson. They tell us that he was well aware of the importance of his actions later in life when he became the first Black Major League baseball player in the 1900s.

Robinson was arrested by military police. After being arrested, Robinson spoke to the arresting officer about unequal treatment and racism, much as he had done back in 1938. The officer tried to have Robinson court-martialed, but Robinson’s commander refused to court-martial him.

Robinson was transferred to another unit under a racist commander, and was soon charged with multiple counts, including trumped up charges that he had been drinking.

When Robinson eventually stood trial at his court-martial a month later, the charges were reduced. Throughout this time, Robinson received racist comments and insults from White officers who wanted to keep the culture of racism. The law saw things differently, and Jackie Robinson was acquitted of all charges.

Despite the threats and the possibility of going to jail, Robinson stood up for what he thought was right. It’s also inspiring that Paul L. Bates, who was Robinson’s first colonel, and was White, refused to charge Robinson and be a part of the widespread racist culture.

All of the enlisted men in the 761st Tank Battalion that Bates commanded were Black. The unit, known as the Black Panthers, would go on to achieve much success in World War 2, and eventually received a long overdue Presidential Citation from Jimmy Carter.

After the trial, Robinson was transferred again, and became a coach of army athletics until he received his honorable discharge in November, 1944. Due to the transfers and legal proceedings, Robinson never rejoined the 761st Battalion or participated in any combat missions during World War 2.

5. Jackie Robinson Was Good at Baseball…Basketball, Football, and Track

jackie robinson facts

It was difficult for Black people to gain access to education in the 1930s when Jackie Robinson attended and graduated from junior high school, and high school.

Robinson persevered, and excelled at sports. His brother, Mack, encouraged his athletic talents, as did his other brother, Frank. Jackie Robinson’s athletic talents had no limits! He was incredibly skilled at football, basketball, track, baseball, and even tennis!

During high school, Jackie Robinson played shortstop and catcher on the baseball team, and was the quarterback of the football team. One of the interesting facts about Jackie Robinson is that Mack, Jackie’s brother, had attended the University of Oregon. Mack knew that sports were the way for Jackie to continue his education.

By excelling at sports, Jackie Robinson would have better access to secondary education. This is one of the sad Jackie Robinson facts that continues to hold importance today. All people, regardless of race or income level, should have access to secondary education. Even today, secondary education is limited for many lower-class people in the United States. Sports scholarships provide an opportunity some students wouldn’t otherwise have.

6. Jackie Robinson Earned His First MVP Award in 1938

facts about jackie robinson

After high school, Jackie Robinson attended junior college at the Pasadena Junior College. Robinson continued to be a quarterback in football, shortstop in baseball, and also participated in basketball and track.

As a track star at Pasadena Junior College, Robinson beat his brother Mack’s record in the broad jump. These Jackie Robinson facts tell us that Robinson’s athletic talent was truly world-class. In 1938, Jackie Robinson received the Most Valuable Player award for baseball in the regional junior college league.

In addition to his athletic activities, Robinson contributed to the community through student organizations. Robinson was recognized for his talents in sports and his responsible approach to civic participation and academics. This is another of the inspiring Jackie Robinson facts for kids. Jackie Robinson was both an incredible athlete and a well-rounded person.

7. He Won the Long Jump at the NCAA Championships in 1940

facts about jackie robinson

After his time at Pasadena Junior College, Jackie Robinson attended the University of California, Los Angeles. During this time, more Jackie Robinson facts were established. He continued to excel at sports, winning the 1940 NCAA Men’s Track and Field Championships in the long jump.

During his time at UCLA, Robinson met the woman he would marry, Rachel Isum. While continuing his studies, Robinson became the first athlete at UCLA to get a varsity letter in four sports. He continued to participate in baseball, football, track and basketball.

Robinson’s future-wife Rachel Isum and his mother wanted him to complete his degree at UCLA. One of the few mysterious Jackie Robinson facts is that he left UCLA before completing his degree and took a job as an athletic director in a federal youth athletics program.

Many reasons have been suggested to explain why Robinson left UCLA before graduation. Some people speculate that his decision was financial. Robinson himself has said that he did not see the value of a college degree for a Black man at the time. Others have guessed that he was behind with his schoolwork due to his focus on athletics.

The federal government pulled funding from the youth athletics program and in 1941, Robinson moved to Hawaii to play football in the semi-pro league on the Honolulu Bears. Later that year, Robinson returned to California and briefly played for the Los Angeles Bulldogs, which were part of the newly formed and short-lived Pacific Coast Football League.

8. Jackie Robinson Was Friends with Heavyweight Champion Joe Louis

facts about jackie robinson

In 1942, Jackie Robinson was drafted into the Army. At the time, the Armed Forces of the United States were not segregated by law. However, there was cultural segregation that continued to exist. Jackie Robinson would challenge this racism directly, and it would alter the course of his military career.

One of the amazing Jackie Robinson facts is that he was friends with the heavyweight-boxing champion Joe Louis. Robinson and Louis bonded through their experiences in the military, including the racist practices they both endured.

Louis, Robinson and other Black men applied for Officer Candidate School, or OCS, to be officers in the Army. They met the criteria, and there were no laws against Blacks being admitted to OCS. However, there was institutional racism in place that made admission difficult for Black people.

Joe Louis, Robinson and others protested, and were eventually admitted to OCS. Jackie Robinson graduated from OCS as a second lieutenant in 1943. This is one of the Jackie Robinson facts that teaches us that Robinson continued to stand up for what he thought was right.

9. The Second Black Player in Baseball Started Only 6 Weeks after Robinson

facts about jackie robinson

The most historic of the Jackie Robinson facts that would be established were predicated by a conversation with the Brooklyn Dodgers’ manager, Branch Rickey, in August of 1945. Rickey was concerned by Robinson’s history of being speaking out against injustice. Rickey said that whoever became the first Black baseball player would need to have the courage to take a non-violent approach.

This is one of the Jackie Robinson facts that demonstrates how his efforts were a part of what would become the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. Robinson agreed to take the high road in confrontations, and was signed to the Montreal Royals in 1945. The Montreal Royals were part of the International League, a part of the system that fed players into Major League Baseball. Robinson was the first to play in the league since the 1880s!

By 1946, Robinson was still playing baseball for the Royals and other teams. He was touring with barnstorming teams and played across the United States – even in South America!

In February of 1946, Robinson married Rachel Isum, who became Rachel Robinson. Together, they would have three children, Jackie Robinson, Jr., Sharon Robinson and David Robinson.

Spring training of 1946 would be the first real test of Jackie Robinson’s resolve and would provide more interesting facts about Jackie Robinson. He endured racial threats and insults. Some teams and some players refused to play with him. Some areas of the country were still segregated, and Robinson often had to stay separately from other members of his team.

Also read: Black History Facts

Robinson had made it very far, and yet still faced an uphill struggle. When enduring racial insults and discrimination, Robinson “turned the other cheek”, as Rickey had advised. In 1947, Rickey moved Robinson up to the Brooklyn Dodgers and he played his first season of Major League baseball.

The pressures persisted, and Jackie Robinson continued to excel, despite racial insults and threats from players, owners and fans. He received the Rookie of the Year award for the 1947 season and would be an instrumental part of the Dodgers’ success over the coming years.

Later in 1947, Larry Doby, became the second Black player in the Major League, and the first in the American League. Doby and Robinson would support each other by talking on the phone throughout the season. By 1948, the Dodgers had hired three more Black players, and more Major League baseball teams were becoming more integrated.

Resistance continued, however, due to cultural racism. Major League baseball had to enforce rules stating that players would be suspended if they refused to play with Black players. All of this played out on the national stage, and Jackie Robinson became an American hero. Being a celebrity also brought more threats, and Jackie Robinson kept his cool amidst it all. Robinson was being a good citizen off the field, and an amazing player on it!

By the time the Dodgers won the World Series, in 1955, Robinson’s baseball career was going into decline. In 1956, rather than be traded, Robinson retired from baseball and took a position at Chock full o’Nuts as one of the first Black executives at a major United States corporation.

10. Jackie Robinson Played in the Negro Baseball League before the Dodgers

jackie robinson facts

From 1944 to 1945, Robinson returned to California and briefly played again for the Los Angeles Bulldogs. Following this, he took a job as a basketball coach at the Sam Huston College in Texas. The program was small, though Robinson received some recognition for being a very disciplined coach.

The next set of Jackie Robinson facts would change not just his life, but also the course of history. While working as a coach in army athletics, Robinson was told he should apply to be a player for the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro American League. Robinson wrote a letter to the owner requesting a tryout. In 1945, while he was coaching at Sam Huston College, the Monarchs offered Jackie Robinson a contract to play professional baseball.

This is one of the ironic Jackie Robinson facts because he was talented in so many sports, although baseball may have been the sport he excelled at the least. It’s a testament to how great an athlete he was that he could play even the sport he was least good at, at a professional level!

The Negro American League was professional baseball. However, Robinson did not like that there wasn’t the same level of rigor that had defined his experiences as an athlete and a coach. Despite the somewhat loose structure of the league, there were incredibly talented players, many of whom were better than their White counterparts playing in Major League Baseball.

Some of the first Jackie Robinson facts regarding professional baseball emerge at this time. During his first season, Robinson batted .387 with five home runs and 13 stolen bases. This performance earned him a spot in the 1945 Negro League All-Star Game.

Perhaps motivated by economics, or by his desire for equal treatment, or simply because he wanted to be in a more rigorous professional setting, Robinson began to tryout for Major League Baseball.

11. 50 years after Jackie Robinson, in 1997 his number “42” was permanently unavailable by each and every team in Major League.

12. Every year April 15th is celebrated with great enthusiasm in Major league of baseball as Jackie Robinson day.

13. He was included inducted into the hall of fame in 1962.

14. He never intended to become a great baseball player; in fact baseball was his least favorite game.

15. In 1992 he was elected to the baseball hall of fame.

16. He was the first African-American, who became a great TV sports analyst.

17. On March 26, 1984, he was awarded with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

18. Due to diabetes, Jackie left the baseball.

19. Robinson died on a heart attack on October 24th

Interesting Facts about Jackie Robinson Summary

Jackie Robinson was an incredible athlete who was the first Black person to play Major League Baseball since the 1880s. His role as a professional athlete was an important symbol of changing attitudes about race in the United States. Robinson was never afraid to stand up for what he believed was right. He was incredibly talented as an athlete, and became a symbol for equality in the United States.

Because baseball is the national pastime, it often reflects the attitudes of the United States. While laws still existed in many parts of the country that upheld segregation, Major League baseball ended segregation, showing that it could also be possible for society as a whole.

Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke about the importance of Jackie Robinson as a symbol. Robinson attended the March on Washington in 1963. Robinson was willing to go to jail for what he thought was right. However, it was his non-violent approach, an approach that would come to characterize the Civil Rights Movement, which was successful in helping to end segregation in baseball.

Teaching Jackie Robinson facts to kids is a great way to get them interested in the Civil Rights movement. Robinson’s role as a professional athlete made him an important national figure of the Civil Rights movement, like Martin Luther King, Jr. Jackie Robinson knew the importance of what he was doing and is a shining example of how one person can make a big difference.


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