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Jackie Robinson: Before the Dodgers, a 4-sport star at UCLA


Jackie Robinson was an exceptional athlete and civil rights leader. On April 15, 1947, he broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier when he strutted to first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Major League Baseball celebrates this pioneering day on April 15 every year.

Robinson died in 1972 at the age of 53, but his legacy lasted for decades. Every MLB team has retired his jersey number 42, and on the anniversary of his debut with the Dodgers, every MLB player wears the number on “Jackie Robinson Day.”

In his 10-year career in professional baseball, Robinson was a Rookie of the Year, National League Rookie of the Year, NL batting champion, World Series champion, six-time All-Star, and twice led the league In stolen bases. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.

But before Robinson broke records and barriers in the professional ranks, he was a star at UCLA. Here’s a look at his college career.

Robinson at UCLA: The Bruins wear No. 42 in the Caps | No. Robinson is retired

Jackie Robinson starts out in junior college

Robinson was born in Cairo, Georgia, but his family moved to Pasadena, California in 1920. After high school, Robinson attended Pasadena Junior College—now Pasadena City College—and was a four-sport star in baseball, football, basketball, and track. And the field. According to the California Community Colleges websiteRobinson hit .417 with 43 runs scored in 24 games for the school in 1938. On the football field, he still holds the school record for the longest run from scrimmage, 99 yards.

UCLA Baseball Conflict

Robinson entered UCLA in 1939 and was again a four-sport winner in football, basketball, track and field, and baseball. But in the sport for which he would become famous, Robinson struggled. According to the school website097 batting average for the Bruins in 1940. Despite his pain at the plate, Robinson remained in the lineup due to his fielding experience and speed along the base path. As a professional, Robinson stole home plate 19 times during his career. Perhaps Robinson’s best college baseball game was his first at UCLA, where he had four hits and stole four bases.

Reticulated star

While most people are aware of Robinson’s accomplishments on the baseball diamond, they may not know that he was an exceptional football player as well. In fact, football was probably his best sport as a college athlete. In 1939 and 1940, he led the nation in average punt returns. In 1940, he led the Bruins in passing (444 yards), rushing (383 yards), and scoring (36 points).

Student newspaper Because his rival Stanford called him “Lightning Jackie Robinson” and he was known for his big plays. According to the New York TimesHe returned a punt 64 yards in a game on October 7, 1939 to help the Bruins beat the Washington Huskies. Three weeks later, he caught a touchdown pass that traveled 66 yards for a score to help UCLA top Oregon State. In addition to starring on offense and special teams, Robinson also played safety on defense.

On the 1939 team, Robinson was one of four African-American players for the Bruins, making them the most integrated college football team at the time. This team was undefeated with six wins and four draws. Coached by Pep Hurrell, they finished seventh in the latest AP poll. Robinson earned All-Pac-10 honors.

My star in hoops

Robinson was also a strong basketball player, despite being shorter than many players at 5 feet 11 inches. Robinson was the West Coast Conference Player of the Year in UCLA basketball. In one game, on February 12, 1940, he torched Stanford and scored 25 points. He averaged 12.4 points per game in 1940 and 11.1 points per game in 1941.

He broke track and field records

Robinson remains the only UCLA athlete to ever letter in four sports. He missed most of the 1940 track season due to his baseball duties, but won the Pacific Coast Conference and NCAA titles in the long jump with jumps of 25-0 and 24-10. Had the 1940 and 1944 Olympics not been canceled due to World War II, Robinson likely would have competed.

The name lives on in the stadiums

Between the end of his college days at UCLA and the beginning of his professional baseball career, Robinson was drafted and served in the Army. Robinson was stationed at Fort Hood, Texas for some time, and In 2016 the base was named The softball field is beyond him. In 1981, UCLA opened its new baseball park, Jackie Robinson Stadium, and a statue of him can be found near the entrance. There is also a stadium in Daytona Beach, Florida named after him, Jackie Robinson Ballpark. Robinson played in the city during 1946 spring training with the Montreal Royals. Today, the stadium is home to the Daytona Tortugas of the Cincinnati Reds Single-A team, and the Bethune-Cookman University baseball team.



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