Former MLB trailblazer Jackie Robinson would have been 102 years-old-today, making this the perfect moment to celebrate the icon.
Beginning his whirlwind of a career, Robinson made his baseball debut when the Dodgers drafted him as their second baseman in 1947.
Not only did he break records in the sport, he always smashed the color barrier— becoming the first African-American player in major league history.
He appeared in six All-Star games, played in six World Series, and was an inductee into the MLB’s Hall of Fame. His athletic ability transcended any measurable statistic, culminating in 1997 when his number, 42, was retired by MLB.
In honor of Robinson, we’re taking a look at five of his best moments.
Robinson Officially Shatters The Color Barrier
When Robinson took the field in their season opener against the Boston Braves on April 15, 1947, it was a symbolic moment forever etched in history.
However, the game wasn’t technically significant. Robinson batted second, went 0-for-3, and scored the tying run after reaching first base in the seventh inning. Brooklyn took the game, 5-3.
By the end of 1947, the Associated Press named Robinson the country’s second-most admired man behind Bing Crosby.
Robinson in the Civil Rights Movement
After retiring in 1956, Robinson took his fame and became a leading voice in the civil rights movement.
One year later, he became the chairman for the NAACP’s Freedom Fund Drive. He served on the board of directors for the NAACP until 1967. He also partnered with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on his Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Robinson also devoted his life after baseball to giving back to the black community. In 1964, he founded the Freedom National Bank, a black-owned bank that served the black community in Harlem. In 1970 he established the Jackie Robinson Construction Company as a way to build housing for low-income families.
Jackie Robinson Day
To honor his lifetime of achievement, the MLB enacted Jackie Robinson Day on April 15, 2004, the day Robinson made his major league debut.
Celebrated at ballparks everywhere, players, coaches, and managers on both teams, and the umpires, wear Robinson’s iconic No. 42.
Bob DuPuy, the President of Major League Baseball, described the day’s significance as “not only for baseball but also for our country.”
Robinson Becomes MVP
After an unprecedented moment when he became the first African American player in the MLB, Robinson proved he had every right to be on the field when he won the MVP award for the 1949 season.
That year, Robinson set the stage for what would become an impressive career: his batting average (.342), hits (203), stolen bases (37), and triples (12).
Jackie Robinson’s Statue
Robinson’s success within the MLB would culminate in 2017 when the Dodgers honored him with his own statue.
The 800-pound, eight-foot statue depicting Robinson stealing home during his rookie season was brought to life by sculptor Branly Cadet. It currently lives in the plaza at the Chavez Ravine ballpark, where the highest percentage of fans enter the stadium.
After the dedication, his son, David Robinson, spoke fondly of the moment. “I think it’s a very good thing when a society can look back and maintain a respect in honoring a kind of person who represented characteristics for these 70 years,” Robinson said.
“And then build a physical statue for all of us to think back on where we’ve come, where we have to go.”