Baseball Great

Historical Marker #2164 in Morganfield commemorates baseball legend Jackie Robinson, who began his career at Camp Breckinridge in Union County, Kentucky.

Jack “Jackie” Roosevelt Robinson was born in Cairo, Georgia in 1919. His mother, Mallie Robinson, single-handedly raised Jackie and her other four children. Jackie excelled early at all sports and, while a student at UCLA from 1939-1941, became the first athlete to win varsity letters in four sports: baseball, basketball, football, and track. In 1941, he was named to the All-American football team.

Robinson left college to support his mother and he eventually enlisted in the U.S. Army during World War II. He was assigned to a segregated Army cavalry unit in Fort Riley, Kansas, and, in January 1943, was commissioned as a second lieutenant. Robinson then went on to be assigned to the 761st tank battalion in Fort Hood, Texas.

On July 6, 1944, Robinson boarded an Army bus. When the driver of the bus ordered Robinson to move to the back of the bus, he refused. The driver called the military police, who took Robinson into custody and court-martialed him because of his objections to racial discrimination. He was later acquitted of the charges. After his court martial trial and acquittal, he was transferred to Camp Breckinridge, Kentucky, where he was placed with the 372nd Infantry Regiment. Known for his college athletics success by those at Camp Breckinridge, he served as a coach for Army athletics before receiving an honorable discharge in November 1944.

While at Camp Breckinridge, Robinson came upon a fellow soldier, Ted Alexander, a former pitcher with the Kansas City Monarchs, throwing pitches on a baseball field at the camp. As Robinson recalled in his later memoirs:

“I was walking across the camp recreation field when a baseball arched high into the sky and was carried toward me by a strong breeze. As it hit the ground and bounced toward me I leaned over and scooped it up with one hand. I saw a player running in my direction so I pegged a perfect strike to him. As it plopped into his glove he shouted, ‘Nice throw!’ ”

After watching for a bit, Robinson struck up a conversation with the player, complimenting him on his curveballs. “He said he had heard of me as a football player and a track man,” Robinson recalled, “but not as a baseball player. Then he explained that he pitched for the Kansas City Monarchs … and that the team needed good players. He suggested that I write if I thought I could make the grade. I wrote.”

Before parting ways from Camp Breckinridge, Alexander gave Jackie Kansas City Monarchs’ owner Tom Baird’s contact information. Robinson wrote to the Monarchs inquiring about a position on their team. When spring came around, the Monarchs sent him a contract and instructed him to report for spring training, thus officially starting his baseball career.

Robinson played one season in the Negro Baseball League with the Kansas City Monarchs in 1945. In 1946, Brooklyn Dodgers president Branch Rickey approached Robinson about joining the Dodgers organization. If Robinson was interested, he would first play for Brooklyn’s International League farm club, the Montreal Royals. The Major Leagues had not had an African American player for over 60 years, when Black players were unofficially banned from playing.

On April 15, 1947, the Dodgers started Robinson at first basewhere he broke the color barrier in the nation’s preeminent sport and began the desegregation of professional athletics in the United States. At the end of his rookie season, he was named National League Rookie of the Year. He continued to excel in the league and was eventually inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962. Major League Baseball universally retired Jackie Robinson’s number 42 for every league team on April 15, 1997, the 50-year anniversary of Robinson’s Major League debut.

The marker reads:


Jackie Robison (1919-72) began his

professional baseball career while

a lieutenant at Camp Breckinridge,

1944. The next year Branch Rickey,

Brooklyn Dodgers general manager,

signed the four-sport letterman

from UCLA for Montreal Royals, top

Dodger farm club. In 1947, Robinson

promoted to Dodgers team, breaking

major league color barrier. Elected

to Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.

This marker was dedicated on February 25, 2005.



S Third Street, Morganfield, KY