Jackie Robinson, who made his debut for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947, was the first black Major League Baseball player in the modern era. Even though Robinson was already 28 years old when he played his first MLB season, he still proceeded to win the Rookie of the Year award. Robinson played a total of 10 years for the Dodgers, retiring after the 1956 season.
Though many fans and players were less-than-friendly when Robinson first broke the MLB color barrier, he is now favorably remembered as an American hero. In fact, Robinson is so well-respected that his number "42" was retired by every MLB team in 1997 — the 50th anniversary of his first season. Robinson was also memorialized in 1982 when he became the first baseball player to have his image included on a U.S. postage stamp.
In addition to being a role model for many, Robinson was also an excellent baseball player. He led the National League in batting average and stolen bases in 1949, making him a potent offensive threat. His excellent play helped the Dodgers earn a trip to the World Series. He was also named to the All-Star team for the first time in 1949 — the same year he was named the league's MVP.