On April 15, Major League Baseball celebrates Jackie Robinson Day. On that day 66 years ago, Robinson broke the baseball color line and became the first African-American to play on a major sports team.
Today, “42″ — a biopic about the Baseball Hall of Famer and civil rights pioneer, whose jersey was emblazoned with the number 42 — hits theaters. Here are 42 facts to celebrate.
1. Jack “Jackie” Roosevelt Robinson was born January 31, 1919, in Cairo, Ga. Shortly after his birth, his family moved and settled in Pasadena, Calif.
2. President Theodore Roosevelt, who died 25 days before Robinson was born, was the inspiration for his middle name.
3. He was the youngest of five children — Edgar, Frank, Matthew “Mack,” and Willa Mae — and grew up in relative poverty in a well-off community in Pasadena.
4. Robinson attended John Muir High School, where he was placed on the Pomona Annual Baseball Tournament All-Star Team with fellow future Baseball Hall of Famers Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox and Bob Lemon of the Cleveland Indians.
5. He was also an accomplished tennis player, winning the junior boys singles championship in the Pacific Coast Negro Tennis Tournament.
6. His brother, Mack, was an adept athlete and a splendid sprinter. He won a Silver Medal in the 200 meters behind Jesse Owens during the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany.
7. In 1942, Jackie Robinson was drafted into the Army. He was assigned to a segregated Army Cavalry unit in Fort Riley, Kansas.
8. While in the Army, Robinson became friends with boxing champion Joe Louis when the heavyweight, who was stationed at Fort Riley at the time, used his celebrity to protest the delayed entry of black soldiers in an Office Candidate School. As a result, Robinson was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1943.
9. After an incident where he refused to sit in the back of an unsegregated bus, military police arrested Robinson at the request of a duty officer, who later requested Robinson be court-martialed. At the time of the proceedings, Robinson was prohibited from being deployed overseas to the World War II battlefronts. He never saw combat during the war…
Read More: mentalfloss.com