After more than 50 years of segregation, Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball on April 15, 1947. He became the first African-American to play in the MLB when he stepped on Ebbets Field in Brooklyn as a Brooklyn Dodger.
Growing up, Robinson was a natural athlete. Before he began setting records on a professional level, he attended the University of California, where he became the first athlete, Black or white, to letter in four varsity sports: baseball, basketball, football and track.
Robinson got his start in professional baseball playing for the Negro American League. He was recruited by Branch Rickey, the general manager of the Dodgers, in 1945. He wouldn’t get an official call from the major league until 1947, and he quickly rose to the top despite racism and oppression from the league and fans.
Robinson was a star infielder and outfielder and led the Dodgers to six National League pennants and one World Series win in 1955. For his contributions to baseball, Robinson’s No. 42 jersey was retired 50 years after his Brooklyn Dodgers debut and was the first number retired by all teams in the league. He was also inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962, his first year of eligibility.
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(Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)