Baseball pioneer and hero Jack Roosevelt Robinson (1919-1972) was born on this day in Cairo, Georgia. The extraordinary African American was a four-sport athlete at UCLA and is best known for breaking the color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.
"I believe in the goodness of a free society. And I believe that society can remain good only as long as we are willing to fight for it--and to fight against whatever imperfections may exist," he said.
On the field, the courageous 2nd baseman endured racial name-calling and cruelty from fans and players. With pride and calm, he let his magnificent hitting, base running, and fielding speak for who he was--a man of great decency and talent.
Of the abuse, he said, "I’m not concerned with your liking or disliking me… All I ask is that you respect me as a human being."
The only player in the history of Major League baseball whose Number 42 was retired by every team, the right-handed swinger produced a .311 average over a 10-year career and led his team to six pennants. An electrifying base runner, he was one of the few players who could steal home.
"A life is not important, except in the impact it has on other lives," said the man who changed the world with his competitive grace and passion.
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