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Jackie Robinson:
Professional Baseball Player & National 'Hero'

Photoraph of Jackie Robinson stealing home plate

Jackie Robinson was born in Cairo, Georgia in 1919 to a family of sharecroppers. Growing up in a large, single-parent family, Jackie excelled early at all sports and learned to make his own way in life. At UCLA, Jackie became the first athlete to win varsity letters in four sports: baseball, basketball, football and track.

In 1945, Jackie played one season in the Negro Baseball League, traveling all over the Midwest with the Kansas City Monarchs. In 1947, Brooklyn Dodgers president Branch Rickey approached Jackie about joining the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Major Leagues had not had an African-American player since 1889, when baseball became segregated.

When Jackie first donned a Brooklyn Dodger uniform, he pioneered the integration of professional athletics in America. By breaking the color barrier in baseball, the nation's preeminent sport, he courageously challenged the deeply rooted custom of racial segregation in both the North and the South.

Photograph of Jackie Robinson and teamates celebrating first World Series win in 1955

At the end of Robinson's rookie season with the Brooklyn Dodgers, he had become National League Rookie of the Year. In 1949, he was selected as the NL's Most Valuable player of the Year and also won the batting title. As a result of his great success over the next ten years, including helping the dodgers win their first World Series in 1955, Jackie was eventually inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.

Jackie Robinson's life and legacy will be remembered as one of the most important in American history.

(From the Jackie Robinson Official Web site, http://www.jackierobinson.com/about/bio.html )

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