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When Jackie Robinson ran out onto Brooklyns Ebbets Field to play his first game in the major leagues many Americans were shocked The grandson of a slave Jackie was the first African American to play for a major league baseball team in the Twentieth Century Last year Jackie Robinson again captured the imagination and hearts of millions of Americans as the nation celebrated the 50th anniversary of his historic first game in the majors President Clinton honored Jackie during a game in New York and Major League Baseball retired his number 42 Jack Roosevelt Robinson was born in Cairo Georgia on January 31 1919 to Jerry and Mallie Robinson He grew up in Pasadena California In high school and at Pasadena Junior College he showed great athletic skill in track basketball football and baseball He left school in 1941 and was drafted the following year for Army service during World War II After receiving a medical discharge in 1945 Jackie Robinson decided to tryout for the Boston Red Sox but ended up not making the team He spent a year playing baseball with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro National League Later he played in the 1946 season with the Montreal Royals a Dodgers farm club and led the International League in hitting with a 349 average He stole 40 bases and scored 113 runs When the Dodgers opened their 1947 season Robinson was playing second base On April 10 1947 Jackie Robinson became the first black player to sign a major league contract in the 20th century During his first game Jackie went hitless in three at-bats but flawlessly handled 11 chances at first base In 1947 Jackie hit 297 and stole 29 bases while also playing first base for the Dodgers Jackie led the National League in stolen bases and was named rookie of the year The main problem he had to overcome was controlling his short temper after
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