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Jackie Robinson 50th Anniversary Commemorative: Breaking

A look at the life of Jackie Robinson:

March 31, 1997

"A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives."

--Jackie Robinson


Jan. 31, 1919--Jackie Robinson is born in Cairo, Ga., the fifth child of Mrs. Mallie Robinson, daughter of a slave. A year later, his father deserted the family and the mother and five children moved to Pasadena.

1936--By his senior year at Muir High, has starred and lettered in football, basketball, baseball and track.

1937-39--At Pasadena Junior College, he again letters in those four sports, setting the national JC record in the long jump.

1939-41--The first four-sport letterman at UCLA, he is the national long jump champion in 1940 and the basketball team's leading scorer both seasons.

March 18, 1942--Robinson works out for White Sox Manager Jimmy Dykes in Pasadena. Dykes says "He's worth $50,000 of any owner's money." The White Sox make no offer.

1945--Bats .387 for the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro leagues after three years in the Army.

April 16, 1945--Robinson tries out for the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. No offer.

Oct. 23, 1945--Dodger owner Branch Rickey announces he has signed Robinson to play with the Dodgers' Montreal farm team.

1946--In spring training, the Dodgers take Robinson to Jacksonville to play an exhibition. The game is called off soon after they arrive because "the lights in the stadium aren't working." The game was scheduled to begin at noon.

Feb. 10, 1946--Marries the former Rachel Isum.

April 18, 1946--Robinson plays for the Montreal Royals, the first black to play in modern organized baseball. He bats .349, with 113 runs and 40 stolen bases. The Royals draw a club-record 412,744 at home and 399,047 on the road.

March 9, 1947--In Panama for an exhibition game, several Dodgers draw up a petition protesting Robinson's presence. Manager Leo Durocher tells his players: "I don't care if the guy is yellow or black. I'm the manager of this team and I say he plays. I say he can make us rich. And if any of you can't use the money, I'll see that you're traded." Among those who refuse to support the petition are Pete Reiser and Pee Wee Reese, who goes on to become one of Robinson's biggest supporters on the team.

April 10, 1947--Rickey distributes a statement to the press: "The Brooklyn Dodgers today purchased the contract of Jackie Roosevelt Robinson from the Montreal Royals. He will report immediately."

April 15, 1947--25,623 fans (an estimated 14,000 black), come to Ebbets Field in Brooklyn to see Jackie Robinson make his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers. With the Dodgers trailing the Boston Braves, 3-2, in the seventh inning and a runner on, Robinson sacrifices and is safe on Earl Torgeson's wild throw. He scores the go-ahead run on Reiser's double. The Dodgers win, 5-3.


On April 15 in New York's Shea Stadium, 50 years to the day after Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier, there will be a range of festivities before the game between the Mets and Dodgers. President Clinton is among those who will attend.

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