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Another First for Jackie Robinson!
“The way I figured it, I was even with baseball and baseball with me. The game had done much for me, and I had done much for it.” -Jackie Robinson
Perhaps truer words were never spoken…
We can’t let the week go by without mentioning that 68 years ago, on November 18, 1949, Jackie Robinson added another first to his growing list of ground-breaking accomplishments: He became the first African-American in win the MVP award.
And what a year it was! Check out these numbers: The future Hall-of-Fame second baseman posted a lead-leading .342 average, with 203 hits, 122 runs, 16 home runs, 124 RBIs, a .432 on-base percentage, .528 slugging average, and a 152 OPS+ (100 being the major league average). Displaying his all-around versatility, his 37 stolen bases were also tops in the league. Jackie led the Dodgers to their second pennant in three years after he broke the odious color barrier in 1947.
Over 10 seasons with the Dodgers, the six-time All-Star hit .311 with 1518 hits, 137 home runs, 734 RBIs, and a .409 on-base percentage. Jackie won the inaugural Rookie of the Year Award in 1947. His .440 on-base percentage in 1952 led the league. A daring and aggressive base runner, he twice led the league in stolen bases. He played in six World Series including the Dodgers’ 1955 World Series championship. In 38 post-season games, he hit 234 with two home runs and 12 RBIs.
In 1997, Major League Baseball universally retired his uniform #42 across all major league teams, the first pro athlete in any sport to be so honored. Major League Baseball has since adopted an annual tradition, “Jackie Robinson Day”, on which every player on every team wears #42.
Jackie Robinson was also known for his ground-breaking pursuits off the baseball diamond. He was the first black television analyst, and the first black vice president of a major American corporation, Chock full O’Nuts. In the 1960s, he helped establish the Freedom National Bank, an African-American-owned financial institution based in Harlem.
In recognition of his achievements on and off the field, Robinson was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.
Jackie was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962. He was named to the major league All-Century team. He passed away on October 24, 1972, aged 53, due to complications of diabetes.
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Information: Excerpts edited from the Jackie Robinson Wikipedia page. Statistics from Baseball-Reference.com
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