Forget ‘tax day.’ In the baseball world, April 15 is an international holiday each and every year. It’s a day when the entire game recognizes one of the most influential men in the history of American sports, Jackie Robinson.
Now of course even the most casual fan like yourself knows who Robinson was, officially the first man to break the color barrier. The guy who braved a racist culture and mostly a racist country en route to a World Series title. But here are some great things you may not know about #42.
10 Favorite Facts About Jackie Robinson
1 Robinson was one of the best players in the “Negro Leagues”, playing shortstop for the Kansas City Monarchs. However, his contract in 1945 only paid him $400 a month. He didn’t even play pro ball from age 21-26 because of service in the military during WWII.
2 Even after signing with the Dodgers, Robinson had to spend time in the farm system, playing for the Montreal Royals in 1946, before getting called up to Brooklyn in ’47.
3 Anndddd he tore the cover off the ball right away – batting .297 with 175 hits, 12 home runs and 48 RBIs en route to the 1947 Rookie of the Year. He was 28 by the time he broke into the big leagues.
4 But the best was yet to come. On Aug. 29, 1948, in a 12-7 win against the St. Louis Cardinals, Robinson hit for the cycle. He then went on to become the NL batting and stolen base champion, hitting .342 and swiping 37 bases in 1949. He won the MVP that year.
5 Robinson played in six World Series, winning one in 1955 against the Yankees.
6 And he wasn’t done after baseball. Following retirement, Robinson served as V.P. of Personnel for Chock Full O’Nuts coffee, becoming the first African-American V.P. of a major American corporation.
7 Robinson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, becoming the first African American ever inducted.
8 In 1982, Jackie Robinson became the first Major League Baseball player to appear on a US postage stamp.
9 Talent ran in the family. Robinson’s older brother, Mack, finished second to Jesse Owens in the 100-meter race in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
10 Robinson was the first ever four-sport letter winner at UCLA (football, track, basketball and baseball). He led the Pacific Coast Conference (Pac-10) in scoring twice in basketball, becoming the NCAA champion in 1940 in the broad jump (25 feet, 6.5 inches), and achieving All-American status in football.
Every year on April 15, every player on each of the 30 MLB teams wears Robinson’s #42. Robinson is also the only player to have his number retired from all 30 clubs.
And why April 15? It was that day in 1947 when Robinson broke the baseball color barrier, becoming the first African-American to play on an MLB team.
So even if you don’t attend a game today, when you see a box score or someone wearing a cap, give a little shoutout to Jackie. He’s on the short-list of athletes throughout history one can truly look up to, not only as a competitor, but as a quality human being.