After breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball and 10 seasons with the Brooklyn Dodgers, the team attempted to trade Jackie Robinson on this date in 1956.
Robinson was coming off a season in which he hit .275 with 10 home runs and 43 RBI in 117 games. The Dodgers tried to send him to their rival, the New York Giants, in exchange for pitcher Dick Littlefield and $30,000 cash. Littlefield was a reliever and spot-starter that played for three different teams in the 1956 season. He finished 4-6 with a 4.37 ERA and two saves in 40 games.
The 37-year-old Robinson refused the trade and made the decision to retire from baseball. The deal fell through and was voided on the same day. It was later revealed that Robinson rejected the trade because he had already accepted an executive position at Chock full o’Nuts company. He couldn’t announce that as the reason to reject the trade because he had given exclusive rights to Look Magazine for the story. Robinson officially retired from baseball in January of 1957.
Robinson broke into the league in 1947 as the first black player in the big leagues and won the inaugural Rookie of the Year award. He hit .297, with 12 home runs, drove in 48 runs and stole 29 stolen bases in 151 games for the Dodgers. In 1949, the infielder was named the NL MVP after hitting .342 with 16 home runs and 124 RBI in 156 games. He led the league with 37 stolen bases and scored 122 runs with 38 doubles.
In his career, Robinson was a six-time All-Star and ended his career with a batting average of .311 in 1,382 games. He stole 197 bases, had 1,518 hits and 273 doubles in his 10 years.
He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962 and the Dodgers retired his number 42 jersey in 1972. Robinson passed in October of 1972 of a heart attack at the age of 53. His legacy has lived on through the number 42 as it has been retired across baseball and is worn by every player on Jackie Robinson Day every season.
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