Jackie Robinson

American baseball player

Jack Roosevelt Robinson (31 January 191924 October 1972) was an American professional baseball player who became the first African American to play in Major League Baseball (MLB) in the modern era. Robinson broke the baseball color line when he started at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947. When the Dodgers signed Robinson, they heralded the end of racial segregation in professional baseball that had relegated black players to the Negro leagues since the 1880s.

I'm not concerned with your liking or disliking me... all I ask is that you respect me as a human being.
A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.

During his 10-year MLB career, Robinson won the inaugural Rookie of the Year Award in 1947, was an All-Star for six consecutive seasons from 1949 through 1954, and won the National League Most Valuable Player Award in 1949—the first black player so honored. Robinson played in six World Series and contributed to the Dodgers' 1955 World Series championship.


  • I'm not concerned with your liking or disliking me. All I ask is that you respect me as a human being. I am not ashamed of my dark skin. You and every other white American should understand that we believe our color is an asset. Your dislike of my aggressiveness has no effect on me. I'm after something much more important than your favor or disfavor. You should at least respect me as a man who stands up for what he believes in. I am not an Uncle Tom. I am in this fight to stay.
    • Responding, circa 1954, to an umpire who had known him 8 years before, and, somewhat taken aback at finding his old acquaintance much less ready to turn the other cheek, said "I liked you much better when you were less aggressive"; as quoted in Baseball Has Done It (1964) by Robinson, pp. 9-10
  • The role of the manager is overrated, anyhow. Look at Stengel. When he was with the Yankees, loaded with material, he was a winner. When he moved over to the Mets, he finished last. They voted Casey the greatest living manager. That's a lot of bull—a joke. The only thing a manager has to do is relate to the players. Who did Casey ever relate to? Nobody but himself.
    • As quoted in "Jackie Robinson Calls Stengel Overrated Pilot: Attacks Managerial Color Line On Clinic Faculty Discrimination Alleged" by the Associated Press, in The Washington Post (October 25, 1969)
  • My dear Mr. President: I was sitting in the audience at the Summit Meeting of Negro Leaders yesterday when you said we must have patience. On hearing you say this, I felt like standing up and saying, "Oh no! Not again. " I respectfully remind you sir, that we have been the most patient of all people. When you said we must have self-respect, I wondered how we could have self-respect and remain patient considering the treatment accorded us through the years. 17 million Negroes cannot do as you suggest and wait for the hearts of men to change. We want to enjoy now the rights that we feel we are entitled to as Americans. This we cannot do unless we pursue aggressively goals which all other Americans achieved over 150 years ago. As the chief executive of our nation, I respectfully suggest that you unwittingly crush the spirit of freedom in Negroes by constantly urging forbearance and give hope to those pro-segregation leaders like Governor Faubus who would take from us even those freedoms we now enjoy. Your own experience with Governor Faubus is proof enough that forbearance and not eventual integration is the goal the pro-segregation leaders seek. In my view, an unequivocal statement backed up by action such as you demonstrated you could take last fall in dealing with Governor Faubus if it became necessary, would let it be known that America is determined to provide -- in the near future for Negroes -- the freedoms we are entitled to under the constitution, Respectfully yours, Jackie Robinson
    • May 13 1958 to Dwight D. Eisenhower, anthologized in Letters of Note edited by Shaun Usher (2013)

Quotes about Robinson

  • This is a particularly good year to campaign against the evils of bigotry, prejudice, and race hatred because we have witnessed the defeat of enemies who tried to found a mastery of the world upon such cruel and fallacious policy.
    • On the coming arrival of Jackie Robinson into the minor leagues, in "Brotherhood Week" in The New York Times (17 February 1988)
  • I do not care if the guy is yellow or black, or if he has stripes like a zebra. I'm the manager of this team, and I say he plays. What's more, I say he can make us all rich. And if any of you cannot use the money, I will see that you are all traded.
    • Leo Durocher, as quoted in Out of the Shadows : African American Baseball from the Cuban Giants to Jackie Robinson (2005) by Morgan Freedmon
  • Today we must balance the tears of sorrow with the tears of joy. Mix the bitter with the sweet in death and life. Jackie as a figure in history was a rock in the water, creating concentric circles and ripples of new possibility. He was medicine. He was immunized by God from catching the diseases that he fought. The Lord's arms of protection enabled him to go through dangers seen and unseen, and he had the capacity to wear glory with grace. Jackie's body was a temple of God. An instrument of peace. We would watch him disappear into nothingness and stand back as spectators, and watch the suffering from afar. The mercy of God intercepted this process Tuesday and permitted him to steal away home, where referees are out of place, and only the supreme judge of the universe speaks...Jackie, as a figure in history, was a rock in the water, hitting concentric circles and ripples of new possibility...He didn't integrate baseball for himself. He infiltrated baseball for all of us, seeking and looking for more oxygen for black survival, and looking for new possibility. His feet on the baseball diamond made it more than a sport, a narrative of achievement more than a game. For many of us ... it was a gift of new expectations...He helped us to ascend from misery, to hope, on the muscles of his arms and the meaning of his life.
  • When things look dark, void, and altogether hopeless to the colored youth of America..., when they need an inspiring thought that should urge them onward to the road of achievement despite forbidding obstacles, they will only need to read of and reflect upon the remarkable career of Jackie Robinson.
  • For me as a kid, growing up minutes from Ebbets Field, the Dodgers weren't a team-they were a way of life. Gil Hodges, Pee Wee Reese, Don Newcombe, Duke Snider, and Jackie Robinson were not only our heroes; they were part of our family.
  • Jackie Robinson is the best I've seen. Robinson is the perfect blend of ball player. He has creativeness [sic] and imagination. Every move he makes from the minute he steps onto the field is designed to beat the other club. He's constantly asking himself, at bat or on the bases, "what can I do to beat the other guy?" That's the kind of ball player that wins pennants.
    • Fresco Thompson, as quoted by in "Dumb Ball Players Don't Win; Robinson Perfect, Says Czar," Asbury Park Evening Press (July 3, 1955)
  • I didn't know baseball from ping pong. But the point was that he had broken in. I grew inches that day. I puffed out my chest.
    • Desmond Tutu, recalling the moment when, as a young boy, he picked up a copy of Ebony and learned that Robinson had broken baseball's color line; as quoted in "Desmond Mpilo Tutu: Life for South Africa," The Philadelphia Tribune (17 January 1986)
  • No other player on this club with the possible exception of Bruce Edwards has done more to put the Dodgers up in the race than Robinson has. He is everything Branch Rickey said he was when he came up from Montreal.
    • Robinson's teammate Dixie Walker, as quoted in "Dixie Lauds Jackie", The Daily Worker (September 16, 1947). Walker had originally asked Branch Rickey to be traded, upon hearing in spring that Robinson was going to be brought up to the Major Leagues for the 1947 season.
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Wikipedia has an article about Jackie Robinson