Very few people, if any, impacted the game of baseball the way Brooklyn Dodgers legend Jackie Robinson did. The first Black man to play in the modern era of Major League Baseball — we mustn’t forget “Fleet” Walker played at the major-league level in 1884 — Robinson changed the game forever when he took the field for the Dodgers’ season opener against the Boston Braves on April 15, 1947, and his legacy continues to live on nearly three-quarters of a century later.
But Robinson wasn’t just the first Black man to play in the modern era. He also paved the way for Black men and women in the business world and also made some broadcasting history. And here’s a fun fact for you: Jackie Robinson even has an asteroid named after him.
Jackie Robinson played 10 seasons for the Brooklyn Dodgers
First signed by Brooklyn Dodgers GM Branch Rickey in 1945, Jackie Robinson played one season for the franchise’s minor-league affiliate, the Montreal Royals, before famously making his big-league debut on April 15, 1947.
Despite all the adversity he faced that season (and beyond), Robinson was named MLB Rookie of the Year (only one award was given until 1949) and helped the Dodgers to the World Series, where they lost in seven games to the New York Yankees.
Wearing the No. 42 that is now retired by all of Major League Baseball, Robinson ultimately played 10 seasons in Brooklyn, hitting .311 with 137 home runs, 734 runs batted in, and 197 stolen bases. He was named NL MVP in 1949, a season in which he led the league in batting average (.342) and stolen bases (37) while also knocking in a career-high 124 runs. The season also saw Robinson earn the first of six consecutive All-Star selections.
In 1955, Robinson won his first and only World Series title as the Dodgers defeated the Yankees in yet another thrilling seven-game series. He retired following the 1956 season and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1962, his first year on the ballot. His No. 42 was retired by the Dodgers shortly before his death in 1972 and then by all of MLB in 1997.
He was also the first black network broadcaster for MLB
Upon retiring from the Dodgers, Jackie Robinson quickly entered the business world as he became the vice president of personnel for the Chock full O’ Nuts coffee company, making him the first Black person to serve as a vice president for any major American corporation. He was on the board of the NAACP for years, co-founded Freedom National Bank in Harlem, and started his own construction company to build housing for low-income families.
In 1965, Robinson made history yet again as he became the first Black network broadcaster when ABC hired him as an analyst for their Major League Baseball Game of the Week program. He later also worked on a part-time basis as a commentator for the Montreal Expos, calling games in the very city in which he began his career with the Dodgers franchise.
Jackie Robinson has an asteroid named after him
Before and after his death, Jackie Robinson has received many honors, some of which we’ve already discussed with his Hall of Fame induction and the retiring of his famous No. 42. But the honors certainly don’t stop there. He’s appeared on numerous lists as one of the most influential people (not just athletes) of the 20th century, has many buildings and stadiums named in his honor, and appeared on three different postage stamps.
But perhaps the strangest honor involving the Dodgers legend is the asteroid that’s named after him. Seriously, this is a thing. On March 1, 1981, American astronomer Schelte J. Bus discovered a main-belt asteroid while in Australia and named it “4319 Jackierobinson” in honor of his favorite player.
Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference