Jack Roosevelt “Jackie” Robinson was an American Major League Baseball (MLB) second baseman who became the first African American to play in the major leagues in the modern era.
Robinson broke the baseball color line when the Brooklyn Dodgers started him at first base on April 15, 1947. The Dodgers, by playing Robinson, ended racial segregation that had relegated black players to the Negro leagues since the 1880s. Robinson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.
According to a poll conducted in 1947, Robinson was the second most popular man in the country, behind Bing Crosby. In 1999, he was named by Time on its list of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century.
At the November 2006 groundbreaking for a new ballpark for the New York Mets, Citi Field, it was announced that the main entrance, modeled on the one in Brooklyn’s old Ebbets Field, would be called the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. The rotunda was dedicated at the opening of Citi Field on April 16, 2009. It honors Robinson with large quotations spanning the inner curve of the facade and features a large freestanding statue of his number, 42.
President Ronald Reagan posthumously awarded Robinson the Presidential Medal of Freedom on March 26, 1984, and on March 2, 2005, President George W. Bush gave Robinson’s widow the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award bestowed by Congress.
On November 22, 2014, UCLA announced that it would officially retire the number 42 across all university sports, effective immediately.