May 16, 2007
The Black Messiah of Baseball
Jack Roosevelt "Jackie" Robinson was born January 31, 1919 in Cairo, Georgia. He was the youngest of five children. Robinson grew up in an area of poverty, and he also became affiliated with a neighborhood gang in his youth. (2) He was persuaded by his friend named Carl Anderson to abandon the gang. In 1935, Robinson enrolled into John Muir High School. There he lettered in four different sport teams. He was a shortstop and catcher on the baseball team, a quarterback on the football team, a guard on the basketball team, and a member of the tennis team and the track and field squad. After graduating from John Muir High School, Robinson attended Pasadena Junior College and played both football and baseball. (4)
In college, he played quarterback and safety for the football team, shortstop and leadoff batter for the baseball team. On January 25, 1938, he was arrested for questionable reasons and sentenced to probation. In 1938, Robinson was elected to the All-Southland Junior College baseball team. On February 4, 1939, he played his last basketball game at Pasadena Junior College. After leaving Pasadena Junior College, Robinson attended the University of California, Los Angeles, where he was the first athlete to letter in four sports, which was baseball, basketball, football, and track. He withdrew from the University for financial reasons in 1941. (3) Robinson then went on to play football for the semi-professional, racially integrated Honolulu Bears. (5) He returned shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He was drafted into the military after the following year. (6) Jackie Robinson served in the United States Army from 1942-1944. His actions as a second lieutenant may have influenced President Truman's decision to integrate U.S. Armed forces in 1948. Robinson was charged with insubordination for refusing to obey an order to move to the back of a segregated bus in Texas. A military jury...