Robinson is born in Cairo, Ga., as the youngest of five children. The family moves to Pasadena, Calif., in 1920, and Jackie becomes a star athlete at local John Muir High School in the ‘30s, lettering in baseball, football, track and basketball; for the baseball team, he plays shortstop and catcher, and is named to a local All-Star team in ‘36.

A six-year-old Robinson pictured sitting on a chair. Hulton Archive/Getty Images
1919 JAN 31

After transferring from Pasadena Junior College, Robinson makes his debut for the UCLA football team. In two years at UCLA, Robinson becomes a four-letter athlete in track and field, football, basketball and baseball—the first and only in the school’s history. He won the long jump at the 1940 NCAA track and field championships but played just one season for the Bruins’ baseball team, hitting .097. In the spring of 1941, he is forced to leave the school due to financial hardships and is drafted into the Army in 1942. While in the Army, Robinson is nearly court-martialed for refusing to move to the back of a bus in July 1944; he receives an honorable discharge later that year.

Robinson leaping into a football pose during his Freshman year at UCLA. AP Photo
1939 SEPT 29

After spending time as a semi-pro football player in Los Angeles and a player-coach for Sam Huston College’s basketball team in Texas, Robinson joins the Negro League’s Kansas City Monarchs on a contract that pays him $400 a month. He plays 47 games with the Monarchs as their starting shortstop, hitting .387 with five home runs and making the league’s All-Star team. His performance catches the eye of many major league teams, including the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Robinson pictured here while playing shortstop for the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues. Sporting News/Getty Images
1945 MARCH 27


After a three-hour interview with general manager Branch Rickey, Robinson signs a contract with the Dodgers for $600 a month. During the interview, Rickey asks Robinson if he is capable of handling the hate he will receive as a black player without responding to it; when Robinson asks if Rickey is “looking for a Negro who won’t fight back,” Rickey replies that he wants a player “with guts enough not to fight back.” The deal with Brooklyn is formally announced on Oct. 23, and Robinson is assigned to the Montreal Royals, the Dodgers’ farm club.

Robinson signing with the Montreal Royals in Montreal. Pictured alongside Robinson are Royals president Hector Racine, Branch Rickey Jr. and Royals vice president Romeo Gauvreau. AP Photo
1945 AUG 28

Robinson makes his professional debut for the Royals of the International League against the Jersey City Giants. Robinson picks up four hits, including a home run, drives in three and steals two bases, as he breaks the minor league color barrier.

Robinson (right) crosses the plate in Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, N.J. after hitting a home run in the third inning against the Jersey City Giants. Montreal outfielder George Shuba (middle) congratulates him at the plate while umpire Art Gore (left) watches. AP Photo
1946 APRIL 18

Robinson and the Royals win the 1946 International League title over the Louisville Colonels. In his lone season in the minors, Robinson hits .349 and wins the league’s batting title.

Robinson posing in front of the Montreal Royals dugout as he waits to bat. John J. Lent/AP Photo

Early MLB Days

Six days before the season begins, Robinson is called up by the Dodgers, and on April 15, he becomes the first player to break MLB’s color barrier when Brooklyn plays the Boston Braves at Ebbets Field. Playing first base, Robinson goes 0 for 3 with a walk and a run scored.

Pictured from left to right: Brooklyn Dodgers' John Jorgensen, Pee Wee Reese, Ed Stanky and Robinson. AP Photo
1947 apr 15

After a season in which he hits .297/.383/.427 with 12 home runs and an NL-leading 29 stolen bases and 28 sacrifice hits, Robinson is named MLB’s Rookie of the Year (separate Rookie of the Year awards for each league were not created until 1949). Robinson also finishes fifth in the MVP voting.

Robinson speaking with Sporting News editor J.G. Taylor Spink and Brooklyn Dodgers Manager Burt Shotton at Sportsmans Park in St. Louis just before a St. Louis Cardinals-Dodgers game. AP Photo

Robinson becomes the full-time starter at second base for Brooklyn after incumbent Eddie Stanky is traded to the Boston Braves. He will be the Dodgers’ everyday starter at the position for the next five seasons.

Robinson bending forward to grab a ground ball during practice. Hulton Archive/Getty Images
1948 MARCH 6

Robinson hits for the cycle—a single, double, triple and home run in the same game—in a 12–7 Brooklyn win over the St. Louis Cardinals, becoming the first Dodger to do so since Dixie Walker in 1944 and just the fifth in franchise history.

Robinson hitting a single against the Philadelphia Phillies. Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images
Aug 29

MLB Prime

Robinson plays in his first All-Star Game, also the first to feature black players. Robinson starts the game, which is held at Ebbets Field, at second base and is joined on the National League squad by Dodgers teammates Roy Campanella (at catcher) and Don Newcombe (at pitcher). Larry Doby is the American League’s lone black player; he comes on as a late-inning replacement for Joe DiMaggio in centerfield. Robinson goes 1 for 4 with a double and three runs scored, but the NL loses to the AL, 12–7. Robinson will go on to make six All-Star teams in his career.

Pictured from left to right: Roy Campanella, Larry Doby, Don Newcombe and Robinson at the 16th annual All-Star Game, which took place at Ebbetts Field in Brooklyn, New York. AP Photo
1949 July 12

On the heels of the best season of his career, Robinson wins his first and only MVP award. He leads the National League with a .342 batting average and the majors with 37 steals. He also finishes second in baseball in hits (203) and fifth in RBIs (124). Led by Robinson, the 1949 Dodgers win 97 games and the NL pennant but fall to the New York Yankees in the World Series in five games.

Robinson holding his Most Valuable Player award. Sports Studio Photos/Getty Images
Nov 18

On the last day of the season and with the Dodgers needing a win to stay tied with the New York Giants for first place in the National League standings, Robinson leads Brooklyn to a comeback victory over the Philadelphia Phillies, hitting a game-winning home run in the 14th inning of a 9–8 victory. The Dodgers and Giants play a tie-breaking playoff series to determine who will win the pennant and play in the World Series, with Brooklyn losing the third and deciding game on Bobby Thomson’s walk-off home run, the Shot Heard ‘Round The World.

Robinson watches as members of the New York Giants mob teammate Bobby Thomson at home plate after his three-run homer off Dodgers's pitcher Ralph Branca gave the Giants the National League pennant at the Polo Grounds, New York, NY. Photo File/Getty Images
1951 Sept 30

Robinson steals home in the eighth inning of Game 1 of the World Series against the Yankees, swiping the bag off the battery of Whitey Ford on the mound and Yogi Berra behind the plate. Robinson’s steal cuts the Yankees’ lead to a run, 6–5, but the Dodgers lose the game. Brooklyn goes on, however, to win the Fall Classic; it’s Robinson’s only World Series win, though he doesn’t play in the deciding Game 7. That year was also Robinson’s worst as a regular: He slipped to a .256 batting average after six straight seasons of hitting .300 or better and missed 49 games due to injury.

Robinson stealing home in the eighth inning against New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra in Game 1 of the 1955 World Series. Mark Kauffman/Sports Illustrated
1955 Sept 28

After a season in which he plays in just 117 games and hits just .275, Robinson is traded to the crosstown Giants for lefthanded pitcher Dick Littlefield and $35,000. The deal never goes through, however, as Robinson had already chosen to retire at the age of 37, ending his major league career after 10 seasons; the announcement is made through a story penned by Robinson in Look Magazine.

Robinson photographed leaving Ebbets Field for the last time. Barney Stein/Sports Studio Photos/Getty Images
1957 Jan 5

Post-MLB Life

Robinson is elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on his first ballot, joining Cleveland Indians righthander Bob Feller in that year’s class. Robinson receives 124 votes, or 77.5% of the ballot, and becomes the first black player elected to the Hall of Fame. He is inducted on July 23; his Cooperstown plaque notes his “extraordinary ability” and “electrifying style of play” and also pays tribute to his “tremendous courage and poise … when he integrated the modern major leagues in the face of intense adversity.”

Robinson being presented with his Hall of Fame plaque in Cooperstown, N.Y. AP Photo
1962 Jan 23

The Dodgers retire Robinson’s No. 42, alongside those of teammates Sandy Koufax (32) and Roy Campanella (39), making them the first players to have their numbers retired by the organization.

Clude Sukeforth (left), the scout who played a major role in bringing Robinson to the major leagues, speaks with Robinson during a luncheon honoring Robinson in New York. AP Photo
1972 june 4

Robinson makes his final public appearance, as he throws out the ceremonial first pitch of Game 2 of the World Series between the Oakland Athletics and the Cincinnati Reds. He is also presented with a plaque commemorating the 25th anniversary of his major league debut.

Robinson, in his last public appearance, is shown preparing to throw out the first ball at the second game of the 1972 World Series in Cincinnati with Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn. AP Photo
Oct 15

Robinson dies of a heart attack in North Stamford, Conn., at just 53 years old. Robinson, who had been battling diabetes since the 1950s, was suffering from heart disease and was almost blind by the time he died. His funeral is held three days later in New York City, and Robinson is buried at the Cypress Hills Cemetery in Brooklyn, next to his son, Jackie Jr., who was killed in a car crash in 1971.

Reverend Jesse Jackson delivers a moving eulogy as family members, friends and mourners pay their final respects to Robinson at Cypress Hills Cemetery in the Brooklyn, N.Y. AP Photo
Oct 24


On the 50th anniversary of his breaking of the color barrier, Robinson’s No. 42 is retired across baseball, the first time any of the four major American sports had retired a number league-wide. Ten years later, Major League Baseball institutes Jackie Robinson Day to celebrate his accomplishments and bravery, with all MLB players allowed to wear No. 42 in his honor.

President Bill Clinton (left) speaks during a tribute to Robinson at New York's Shea Stadium with Rachel Robinson (center) and Major League Baseball acting commissioner Bud Selig (right) looking on. Tannen Maury/AP
1997 April 15