Jackie Robinson: A remarkable life in 42 photos
Jackie Robinson's life is always remembered by MLB. Photo File/Getty Images

Jackie Robinson: A remarkable life in 42 photos

Major League Baseball celebrates Jackie Robinson Day on April 15 every season. Robinson, of course, broke the color barrier in MLB and had a Hall of Fame career with the Dodgers, and he did it all with the class and style most can only dream of, particularly under the circumstances.

Here, we honor Robinson with Jackie Robinson's life as told for 42 photos for No. 42.

 
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Early years

Early years
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Jack Roosevelt Robinson was born Jan. 31, 1919, in Cairo, Georgia. 

 
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Early years

Early years
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Jackie (second from the left) was the youngest of five brothers and sisters. Robinson's stay in Georgia was short-lived, as he moved with mother and siblings to California shortly after his father left in 1920. 

 
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UCLA

UCLA
Collegiate Images/Getty Images

Robinson became a four-sport star at UCLA, earning varsity letters in baseball, football, basketball and track and field. 

 
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UCLA

UCLA
Archive Photos/Getty Images

Robinson won the 1940 NCAA Men’s Track and Field Championships in the long jump. Surprisingly, in addition to playing football and basketball, he played just one season of baseball at UCLA, hitting only .097, not the start you’d expect to lead to a Hall of Fame MLB career.

 
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Military career

Military career
Gado/Getty Images

Robinson was drafted in 1942 and served until 1944 when he received an honorable discharge after an incident where he refused to sit in the back of a military bus. He never actually saw any combat. 

 
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Negro Leagues

Negro Leagues
Sporting News/Getty Images

Robinson signed with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues, and it was here where he drew the attention of Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey. 

 
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Marriage to Rachel Isum

Marriage to Rachel Isum
Archive Photos/Getty Images

Robinson married his college sweetheart in February 1946. 

 
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Fatherhood

Fatherhood
Gado/Getty Images

The couple welcomed its first child to the world later that year. 

 
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Signing with the Dodgers

Signing with the Dodgers
Sporting News Archive/Getty Images

Late in 1945 Robinson signed his historic deal with the Brooklyn Dodgers, paving the way for him to become the first black player in Major League Baseball. 

 
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Minor leagues

Minor leagues
Gado/Getty Images

Robinson spent 1946 in Montreal playing for the Royals, the AAA affiliate of the Dodgers. 

 
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The call-up

The call-up
New York Daily News archive/Getty Images

Just prior to the start of the 1947 season, Robinson gets the call from the Dodgers to come and join the big league club. 

 
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Number 42

Number 42
Gado/Getty Images

He is assigned No. 42, which would go on to become arguably the most iconic jersey number in MLB history. 

 
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Meeting Leo Durocher

Meeting Leo Durocher
New York Daily News archive

The Dodgers manager at the time was the legendary Leo Durocher, who was an outspoken champion for Robinson breaking the MLB color barrier. 

 
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Debut with the Dodgers

Debut with the Dodgers
Getty Images

Robinson makes his MLB debut on April 15, 1947, drawing a walk and scoring a run in a 5-3 win. 

 
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Life on the Dodgers

Life on the Dodgers
FPG/Getty Images

While not everyone on the Dodgers was excited to have Robinson on the team, most of his new teammates followed their manager's lead and welcomed him with open arms. 

 
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Rookie of the Year

Rookie of the Year
Gado/Getty Images

Robinson's first year was an unmitigated success, where he hit just under .300 while leading the league in stolen bases on his way to his first World Series. For his efforts, he was named Rookie of the Year. 

 
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Friendship with Pee Wee Reese

Friendship with Pee Wee Reese
Gado/Getty Images

One teammate in particular who came out in strong support of Robinson was Pee Wee Reese, who memorably once put his arm around Robinson, a gesture that was later memorialized as a statue in Brooklyn. 

 
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All-Star

All-Star
Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images

Jackie Robinson was the first black player to make the All-Star team in 1949, and he made it five more times in each of the next five seasons. 

 
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Facing racism throughout his career

Facing racism throughout his career
Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images

Robinson's trials and tribulations while dealing with racism on and off the field are well-documented, but perhaps no one was as outspoken as Phillies manager Ben Chapman, who often hurled racial epithets at Robinson from the Philadelphia dugout. 

 
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Civil rights advocate

Civil rights advocate
Cincinnati Museum Center/Getty Images

Long before his career ended, Robinson used his newfound fame to become a champion of civil rights across the United States. 

 
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"The Jackie Robinson Story"

"The Jackie Robinson Story"
John D. Kisch/Getty Images

In the middle of his run with the Dodgers, Robinson starred in his own biopic in 1950, opposite Ruby Dee. 

 
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Family life

Family life
Gado/Getty Images

Mr. and Mrs. Robinson ended up with a total of three kids: Jackie Jr., Sharon and David. 

 
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NBC

NBC
Keystone/Getty Images

Robinson took a role at NBC in 1952, which would later lead to him breaking into broadcasting following his retirement from baseball. 

 
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Relationship with Larry Doby

Relationship with Larry Doby
Sports Studio Photos/Getty Images

A few months after Robinson's debut, Larry Doby broke the color barrier in the American League, and the two quickly became close friends. 

 
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National League MVP

National League MVP
Gado/Getty Images

Robinson's best year as a Dodger came in 1949 when he led the league in batting average and steals while also scoring 122 runs and knocking in 124 runs on his way to his one and only NL MVP award. 

 
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Taking on the Yankees in the World Series

Taking on the Yankees in the World Series
Mark Kauffman

The Dodgers made it to the World Series a remarkable six times during Jackie Robinson's tenure there but were bested by the Yankees during five of those trips. 

 
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World Champion

World Champion
Bettmann / Getty Images

In 1955, the Dodgers finally got over the hump and defeated their crosstown adversary, giving Robinson his only World Series ring. 

 
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World Series victory

World Series victory
Sports Studio Photos/Getty Images

While the title would make the Dodgers the toast of the city, the celebration would be short-lived, as they would move to Los Angeles in 1957, one year after Robinson retired. 

 
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Political activist

Political activist
Gado/Getty Images

Robinson was all over the political spectrum, supporting candidates like Hubert Humphrey...

 
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Political activist

Political activist
Gado/Getty Images

… to Nelson Rockefeller...

 
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Political activist

Political activist
Gado/Getty Images

... to meeting Fidel Castro...

 
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Political activist

Political activist
Gado/Getty Images

... and even supporting Richard Nixon's presidential candidacy. 

 
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Civil rights advocate

Civil rights advocate
Gado/Getty Images

Robinson spent the late 1950s and early part of the 1960s fighting for civil rights...

 
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Civil rights advocate

Civil rights advocate
Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images

... including in this photo with boxer Floyd Patterson before the two boarded a flight to Birmingham. 

 
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Trade to the Giants

Trade to the Giants
Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images

A little-remembered fact about Robinson is that the Dodgers actually traded him to the Giants following the 1956 season. However...

 
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Retirement

Retirement
Sports Studio Photos/Getty Images

... he never suited up for them, instead announcing his retirement from professional baseball at the age of 37. 

 
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Chock Full O'Nuts

Chock Full O'Nuts
Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images

Upon retirement, Robinson became president of the Chock Full O' Nuts company. 

 
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Election to the Hall of Fame

Election to the Hall of Fame
Gado/Getty Images

Robinson was elected to Cooperstown in 1962, his first year of eligibility on the ballot. He broke down another color barrier, becoming the first African-American to be given baseball's highest honor. 

 
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Broadcast career

Broadcast career
Gado/Getty Images

In the late '60s Robinson did broadcast work for both ABC and the Montreal Expos, the city where his professional career began. 

 
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Football general manager

Football general manager
Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images

In 1966, Robinson became general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers...of the Continental Football League, a pro football league that existed from 1965 to 1969. 

 
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Death

Death
Gado/Getty Images

Jackie Robinson died on Oct. 24, 1972, from a heart attack at the age of 53. Nearly 3,000 people attended his funeral.

 
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Legacy

Legacy
Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

On April 15, 1997, Jackie Robinson became the first athlete to have his number retired league-wide. To this day, every player in the league sports No. 42 on April 15 as a tribute to the iconic Robinson. 

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