Jackie Robinson was the first African-American Major League Baseball player. On April 15, 1947, Jackie played his first MLB game with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Because America was still racially segregated at this time (people of different races had unequal rights), it was an historic event! Jackie was chosen to play not only because he was a great athlete, but also because it would help to end the unfair treatment of African American citizens.
Not everybody was very happy about it when Jackie first joined the Dodgers "" people in the stands would shout and throw things, journalists would ask hurtful questions, even some of his own teammates refused to play with him! But Jackie never lost his temper when people said or did mean things, and continued to play game after great game! As he continued to play game after great game, Jackie Robinson soon became a national hero.
His courage and actions directly influenced events like the Civil Rights Movement, and he played a vital role in changing America's mindset and the face of baseball.
Even after his death in 1972, he continues to be mentioned as one of the best players in American baseball history, and is certainly one of the most influential.
On the 50th anniversary of Jackie's debut, MLB announced that they were retiring jersey number 42 across all teams. While certain jersey numbers had been retired before, to make sure that they were always associated with the notable player who wore the number, it was normally on a team-by-team basis. This was the first (and to this day, only) time a number had been retired on all MLB teams!
Throughout his career with the Dodgers, Jackie won the first Rookie of the Year Award in 1947, the Most Valuable Player Award in 1949, six National League pennants and maintained a batting average of .311. Jackie retired from professional baseball in 1956, and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as soon as he was eligible six years later.