Jackie Robinson, who broke racial segregation in professional sports when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, would have turned 94 today. His birthday is being celebrated with a Google doodle, which was posted to the popular search engine’s webpage early this morning.
Born near the town of Cairo, Georgia, the son of parents who lived on a plantation and born as the Spanish Flu ravaged the South, Jackie Robinson was an unlikely candidate for a successful life, let alone national fame. But after a friend persuaded him to leave a neighborhood gang, Jackie Robinson attended John Muir High School and lettered in four varsity sports.
After graduating from high school, a young Jackie Robinson attended Pasadena Junior College and later transferred to UCLA, where he became the first athlete to varsity in four sports: baseball, basketball, football and track. He left college just shy of graduation and took a job as the assistant athletic director with the government’s National Youth Administration in California.
After time in the Negro League, Robinson was brought up from the Minor Leagues to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Jackie Robinson led the Dodgers to win six pennants over 10 seasons. Robinson was named National League MVP in 1949, leading the loop in hitting (.342) and steals (37), while knocking in 124 runs.
Baseball fans also voted him the starting second baseman for the 1949 All-Star Game, which was the first All-Star Game to include black players. In 1955, Robinson would earn his only World Championship when the Dodgers beat the New York Yankees.
In 1957, after suffering numerous physical ailments, Robinson retired from baseball. He would be diagnosed with diabetes later that year. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962, the first year he was eligible, and became the first black player to be inducted into the hall of fame.
On October 24, 1972 Jackie Robinson died of a heart attack in his Connecticut home. He was 53 years old.