5 cool facts you didn’t know about Jackie Robinson
April 15 marks the 70th anniversary of Jackie Robinson‘s MLB debut. As a part of the annual tradition, every MLB team that plays that day has each of their players sport the universally retired No. 42. His acts off the field have been brought up even more within the last year, because of current Black athlete superstars making headlines for speaking out on social issues.
After nearly 70 years of trivia questions, books, and biopics about him, almost anything one wants to know about Robinson is available for consumption — but it’s a lot. So here are five cool facts you that you might not have known about the legend.
5. He was the first Black TV sports analyst.
Before Tom Jackson, Ken Griffey Jr., and Charles Barkley began serving as former players analyzing the sports they played on a national platform, Robinson broadcasted ABC’s MLB Game of the Week in 1965. He also worked as a part-time commentator for the Montreal Expos in 1972.
4. He’s the second baseball player to ever receive the Congressional Gold Medal.
President George W. Bush posthumously awarded Robinson with the highest honor the legislative branch can give a citizen and the honor must be approved by two-thirds of members in the House and Senate.
3. He refused to sit in the back of a bus over a decade before Rosa Parks did.
Back in 1944 when he was Lt. Robinson, the young serviceman sat on a bus next to a woman who appeared white when the enraged bus driver yelled at Robinson to head to the back of the bus. After refusing to follow the bus driver’s orders and keeping his stance in a four-hour court session, Robinson was not found guilty of “willful disobedience of a lawful command [of] Gerald M. Bear, CMP, his superior.” He was then assigned to Camp Breckinridge in Kentucky, before being given an honorable discharge and before he was encouraged to try out for the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro National League.
2. His wife, Rachel, was honored at a Brooklyn Nets game in 2013.
Robinson’s widow, now 94 years old, still makes public appearances at sporting events, including Jackie Robinson Day in Los Angeles for the Dodgers in 2015 and being recognized at the Brooklyn Nets game in 2013.
1. He co-founded a Black bank in Harlem.
In an effort to encourage and initiate more financial literacy in the Black community, Robinson helped fund and co-founded the Freedom National Bank in Harlem, New York, in 1964. The bank’s chairmanship became his wife’s responsibility until the bank closed in 1990.