Baseball Hall of Famer. Civil rights icon. Pasadena City College alumnus.
The youngest of five children raised by a single mother, Jackie Robinson was a four-sport star at Pasadena Junior College, which he attended in 1938 and 1939. He was named the region's Most Valuable Player in baseball in 1938, and the baseball field at Pasadena City College, as it's called now, is named Jackie Robinson Memorial Field at Brookside Park. The football stadium is named after Jackie and older brother Matthew, who won a silver medal in the 200-meter dash – just behind Jesse Owens – at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.
After continuing his education at UCLA, Robinson became the university's first athlete to earn varsity letters in four sports. Despite his athletic success, Robinson was forced to leave shy of graduation due to financial hardship.
Robinson served as a second lieutenant in the Army during World War II. He never saw combat. Robinson’s military career was derailed when he was arrested and court martialed after refusing to move to the back of an unsegregated Army bus. He was later acquitted of the charges and received an honorable discharge.
Robinson began his celebrated baseball career with the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro Leagues, but he was soon chosen by Brooklyn Dodgers General Manager Branch Rickey to integrate the sport. He joined the Montreal Royals, a Brooklyn Dodgers farm team, in 1945, and he played his first game with the Dodgers on April 15, 1947.
It was the first time an African-American athlete played in the major leagues in the modern era.
Not only did Robinson help the Dodgers win the National League pennant that year, he also was selected as Major League Baseball’s inaugural Rookie of the Year. In Robinson’s decade-long career with the Dodgers, Brooklyn won the National League pennant several times and the World Series in 1955. He retired shortly after being traded to the New York Giants before the start of the 1957 season, compiling a career batting average of .311.The first black vice president of a major American corporation, Chock full o’Nuts, Robinson died of heart problems and complications from diabetes on Oct. 24, 1972.