13. Jackie Robinson: Breaking the Color Line

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There was a time in the United States when black people were not allowed to play the game of baseball with white players. That was before the great Jackie Robinson broke what was called the color line in baseball. Prior to April 15, 1947, Major League Baseball was an exclusive "whites only" organization that barred black players from participation. Black Americans could only play in the Negro Leagues that existed roughly between 1920 through 1948. Robinson, and the Brooklyn Dodgers, put an end to segregation in baseball that year, and began a movement for racial equality in the United States.

Robinson was born in Cairo, Georgia on January 31, 1919, but grew up in Pasadena, California, near Los Angeles. He was an outstanding athlete who played baseball and football for Pasadena City College, then at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). During his time with the Dodgers, the team won one championship, and appeared in the World Series six times. From 1949 to 1954, Robinson was named to the All-Star Team, and he won the National League Most Valuable Player Award. He was also named the Baseball Rookie of the Year in 1947, the first year the award was given.

Today, Robinson is honored by every team in both the National and American Leagues on Jackie Robinson Day. On that day, all MLB players wear the number 42 in honor of Robinson. That number, used to be worn by Robinson, was retired universally by all baseball teams, making it the first time any league has retired a number. No player on any MLB team can ever wear that number again. Robinson was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1962. He died on October 24, 1972, and was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal for his part in changing American society.

      

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