Jackie Robinson will remain remembered as the first African-American professional baseball player. He broke the barrier on April 15, 1947. Jackie joined the Brooklyn Dodgers breaking the baseball color line for Major League. And that is only one of the many accomplishments by Jackie Robinson.
When the Dodgers signed him, they started the end of racial segregation in professional baseball. Before Jackie, black players played only in the Negro League.
During his 10-year MLB career, Robinson won many awards, including Rookie of the Year, Most Valuable Player, and more. He played in six World Series and helped the team win the 1955 championship.
The MLB retired his uniform number 42 across all major league teams in 1997. Jackie got the first such treatment in any sport.
The league also adopted a new annual tradition, the Jackie Robinson Day. Starting from April 15, 2004, once a year, every player on every team wears No. 42 on that day.
His character and use of nonviolence, combined with his talent, challenged the traditional basis of segregation that markets other sports and aspects of American life.
Jackie accomplished as much, and if not more during his career outside sports. He joined and contributed to the civil rights movement. He also served as the first black television analyst in MLB.
His contributions and accomplishments go far beyond the baseball diamond. Upon retirement, Robinson fought tirelessly to improve the quality of life for society as a whole. He worked not only for African-Americans but for all people in the country.
And by becoming the first black vice president of a major American corporation, he continued to open doors for African Americans. Let’s take a look at some of the most important Jackie Robinson accomplishments.
Breaking the Color Barrier
Jackie will remain remembered as the first Black baseball player to play in the American major leagues during the 20th century.
He broke the decades-old color line on April 15, 1947. He appeared for the first time on the field for the National League Brooklyn Dodgers. From 1947 to 1956, he played as an infielder and outfielder for the Dodgers, his only team in the MLB.
When he left the sport in 1956, African-Americans constituted 6.7 percent of major league rosters. In 2019, this number rose to 7.7%. According to stats from teams, in 2019, 68 African-American players had a spot among a total of 882 players.
Biggest Salary on the Team
Jackie broke a couple of barriers during his time in the sport. In 1950, he had the highest salary on the Dodgers. He also had the highest salary by any Dodgers player to that point with $35,000. When you calculate for inflation, you get $371,929 in 2019.
Robinson finished that year with 99 runs scored, a .328 batting average, and 12 stolen bases. That year, he portrayed himself in the biography movie, The Jackie Robinson Story.
Rookie of the Year
In 1946, his first year in the MLB, he led the league in batting average. Robinson enjoyed immediate success on the floor. During his rookie season, he also led the league in stolen bases.
That helped him win Rookie of the year. Two years later, he won the batting championship with a .342 average and won the Most Valuable Player award.
Baseball Hall of Fame
The story of Jackie Robinson doesn’t end with his career. His story continues to this day. In 1962, he got elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame. That is only six years after he retired from the sport.
Robinson is among the few African-American players into the Hall of Fame. There are more than 300 members in the famous Plaque Gallery. Jackie is among the 30 something African Americans.
Robinson broke the color barrier when he debuted with the Dodgers in 1947. But it took 24 years, and a public plea from Ted Williams for the Hall to induct its first Negro League star.
Other African-Americans into the Hall of Fame include Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Buck Leonard, Monte Irvin, and many more.
Empowering Black Businessmen
Jackie Robinson joined the civil rights movement from the start. But he had a bit of a different view on the movement than Martin Luther King Jr.
Robinson believed that business activity could bolster social activism. In his autobiography, he wrote, “How much more effective our demands for a piece of the action would be if we were negotiating from the strength of our self-reliance rather than asking for charity”.
After he retired from baseball, Robinson joined the civil rights movement, paving the way for the integration of public schools.
Jackie Robinson tried and managed to help the black community in many different ways. In 1970, he established the Jackie Robinson Construction company.
He had a single purpose with his company. He wanted to build housing for families with low income. Using his money and influence, Jackie helped many African-Americans get their home.
Freedom National Bank in Harlem
Robinson didn’t want to climb the corporate ladder. Instead, he preferred to build his own business. Years before his construction company, he had another company. In 1964, he co-founded the Freedom National Bank in Harlem. The bank grew into one of the largest black-owned banks in the US. Due to series of bad investments, the bank fell apart in 1990.
But for several years, he helped people find money and investments.
Joining the Martin Luther King Movement
Just a few years after his retirement, Jackie joined the civil rights and Martin Luther King movement. In 1958, he joined Luther as honorary chairmen of the Youth March for Integrated Schools.
He also got involved with Dr. King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Robinson started writing a syndicated newspaper column, focusing on matters like race relations, politics, and family life.
By the mid-1960s, Robinson left the Civil Rights movement. He advocated for a non-violent approach and rejected the more extreme measures proposed by young leaders like H. Rap Brown and Huey Newton.
Robinson engaged in a nasty back-and-forth with Malcolm X through his column.
Winning the World Series Championship
During his MLB career, Jackie played only with one team, the Brooklyn Dodgers. During his 10-year career with the Dodgers, he led them to six World Series. They finally won the whole thing in 1955.
His statistics during the 10-year span include 137 home runs, 734 runs batted in, and a batting average of .311.
During that period, he got elected as an All-Star six times, from 1949 to 1954, and won the NL MVP award in 1949. Robinson won the batting champion in 1949 and led the league in stolen bases in 1947 and 1949.
Recognition of his Legacy and Achievements
Jackie Robinson had a great career in the MLB. But many people also recognize his work and contributions outside of baseball.
In December 1956, the NAACP recognized him with the Spingarn Medal. President Ronald Reagan posthumously awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1984 . In 2005, President George W. Bush gave his widow the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award by the Congress.
The MLB retired his number, but also allows an exception on April 15. Since 2004, the league introduced Jackie Robinson Day, an annual observance of his accomplishments and life. Since 2004, on April 15, every player on every team wears Number 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson.