Jackie Robinson (1919-1972) was a professing Christian and his faith played an important role in his decision to play for an all-white Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team.
While growing up in Pasadena, CA, the Robinson family had a cross burned in their yard.
Other sports that Jackie excelled in were basketball, football, track and field, tennis and table tennis. Early in his life, it seemed that Jackie might become a professional football player – not a baseball player.
Jackie’s older brother Mack won the silver medal in track and field in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. The gold medal was won by Jesse Owens.
As a football player at UCLA, his nickname was “Jackrabbit Jackie Robinson.”
In 1942, Jackie received an “Order to Report for Induction” and entered basic training at Fort Riley, KS. He worked in a segregated army unit, looking after horses. Joe Louis, a world renown professional boxer and who was also stationed at Fort Riley, helped get Jackie an officer’s commission. He was honorably discharged in 1944.
Branch Rickey, who was the manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, was also a devout Christian. One of the reasons he recruited Jackie to play for the Dodgers was because of the mutual respect they had for one another as brothers in Christ.
Branch gave Jackie a book by Giovanni Papini on the Sermon on the Mount to encourage him to resist any urges to be vengeful against those who hated him.
On April 18, 1946, Jackie made his debut for the Montreal Royals. He had 4 hits, 4 runs, 3 RBI’s, and stole 2 bases. He became the 1st Montreal Royal to win the battle title that season – hitting .349 and helped lead the team to win 100 games and the pennant by 18 ½ games.
When his career in baseball ended, he began a company called Jackie Robinson Construction Company. They built houses for low-income people.
Jackie was the 1st black player to be honored in the Baseball of Fame (1962). In 1999, Jackie was named to the MLB’s All-Century Team.