Jackie Roosevelt Robinson

On October 15, 1972, Jackie Robinson attended a World Series game that included a commemoration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of his breaking the color line. In his televised speech, Robinson again pushed the baseball league to employ African Americans in more capacities: “I’d like to live to see a black manager, I’d like to live to see the day when there’s a black man coaching at third base.” When Robinson stepped onto the field, it was his second appearance at a Major League Baseball game since ending a self-imposed boycott of baseball that he had begun in protest of the sport’s poor record in hiring minorities for managerial and front-office positions. Nine days later, on October 24, 1972, Jackie Robinson died of a heart attack at his home in Stamford, Connecticut. The first black baseball manager, Frank Robinson, was hired three years later by the Cleveland Indians.

Back Cover of Jackie Robinson Comic Book. c1951. By Popular Demand: Jackie Robinson and Other Baseball Highlights, 1860s-1960s. Prints & Photographs Division

Robinson’s Major League career began on April 15, 1947, when he played his first game with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Following his retirement from baseball after the 1956 season, Robinson became director of personnel for the Chock Full o’ Nuts corporation, the New York City restaurant chain, from 1957 to 1964. He also was active with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In December 1956, the NAACP awarded Robinson the Spingarn Medal, which it confers annually for the highest achievement by an African American. Robinson chaired the NAACP’s million-dollar Freedom Fund Drive in 1957 and was a member of the board of directors until 1967.

Many other groups also honored Robinson. In July 1962, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) held a testimonial dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. Although SCLC president Martin Luther King was not able to attend, King’s speech recognized the positive impact of Robinson’s achievements beyond baseball.

Cover and selected pages from program for Southern Christian Leadership Conference Hall of Fame dinner honoring Jackie Robinson, July 20, 1962, Waldorf-Astoria, New York City (Arthur Mann Papers). Reproduced with permission from the SCLC. By Popular Demand: Jackie Robinson and Other Baseball Highlights, 1860s-1960s. Manuscript Division.

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