Jackie Robinson, the Star Athlete Named After a President

On January 31, 1919, a star was born. Jack Roosevelt Robinson, born in Cairo, Georgia, was 28 years old on April 15, 1947, when he broke the baseball color line and became the first Black player to play on a major sports team.

Jackie Robinson (1919-1972). American Baseball Player
Jackie Robinson (1919-1972). American Baseball Player. Photo By Granger/Shutterstock

Here are some more quick facts to honor the legendary athlete – a man who once said, “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”

Jack Roosevelt Robinson

Jack “Jackie” Roosevelt Robinson was born in Georgia, but after his birth, his family moved and settled in Pasadena, California. What people may not know is that the baseball pro was named after President Theodore Roosevelt, who died 25 days before Robinson was born.

Jackie Robinson (1919-1972). John Roosevelt Robinson, Known As Jackie.
Jackie Robinson (1919-1972). John Roosevelt Robinson, Known As Jackie. Photo By Granger/Shutterstock

Robinson was the youngest of five kids — Edgar, Frank, Matthew “Mack,” and Willa Mae. Robinson went to John Muir High School, where he joined the Pomona Annual Baseball Tournament All-Star Team. On the team were fellow future MLB Hall of Famers, such as Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox and Bob Lemon of the Cleveland Indians.

He Served in the Army

In 1942, Robinson was drafted into the US Army and assigned to a segregated Army cavalry unit in Fort Riley, Kansas. While serving, he became friends with boxing champion Joe Louis, who was also stationed at Fort Riley.

Jackie Wilson (L) And Ray Robinson
1943 – Jackie Wilson (L) And Ray Robinson Have Fought Two Bitterly Contested Ring Encounters. Now It’s Sgt. Wilson And Pvt. Robinson In The Same Aviation Squadron At Mitchel Field, New York, And They Stand Shoulder To Shoulder – Ready For A Fight To The Death On The Axis. Photo By GBM Historical Images/Shutterstock

Louis, at the time, was using his celebrity to protest the delayed entry of black soldiers in an Office Candidate School (OCS). Due to his protests, Robinson was then commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1943.

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