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- Jack Roosevelt Robinson, better known as Jackie Robinson, was the first African American major league baseball player. Previously, he had been a star athlete at the University of California at Los Angeles, served in the Army, and played with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro League. Robinson officially broke the major league “color line” in April 1947 when he put on a uniform, number 42, of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Baseball fans and players reacted to Robinson with everything from unbridled enthusiasm to wariness and open hostility, but he soon won respect and became a symbol of black opportunity. The Sporting News, which had opposed blacks in the major leagues, gave Robinson its first Rookie of the Year Award in 1947. Robinson's outstanding 10-year career included compiling a .311 lifetime batting average, playing in six World Series, and stealing home 19 times. He also won the National League Most Valuable Player award in 1949, when he led the league with a .342 batting average and 37 stolen bases.
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