Jackie Robinson Broke The Color Barrier. He Would Have Been 100 Years Old

(Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)

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Jackie Robinson would have turned 100 years old on Thursday.

The sports legend and American icon was born Jan. 31, 1919. No athlete has ever had the impact on their sport that Robinson had. Quite simply, Jackie Robinson is arguably the most important athlete in American history. (RELATED: Jackie Robinson’s MLB Contract With The Dodgers Is Up For Auction)

When Robinson made his first start at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947, he became the first African American to ever start a game in the MLB. Robinson had previously played in the “Negro Leagues” because no owner or team president was willing to sign an African American player over fear of backlash. That changed in 1945 when Dodgers President Branch Rickey defied the league and gave Robinson a contract.

Robinson would go on to have a legendary career on the field and become an ambassador for the sport off of it. He was inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame on the first ballot in 1962, and was named by TIME as one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century.

Today, the MLB honors Robinson with an annual “Jackie Robinson Day,” where all the players and managers wear Robinson’s number 42, which also happens to be the only number retired across the whole league.

Robinson was an icon, a trailblazer, and an American hero. 100 years after his birth, his legacy still serves as an example for us all.

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