There are a lot of Bruin legends in the sporting world. We are rightfully proud of names like Rafer Johnson and Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Lew Alcindor and Ann Meyers-Drysdale and Arthur Ashe and Lisa Fernandez and Bill Walton and Troy Aikman and Natalie Williams and Karch Kiraly. There was also a man we just called Coach. And there are a thousand other Bruins whose names and accomplishments we cherish.
And then there was Jackie Robinson.
Of all of those legendary names, I believe Jackie is the greatest Bruin athlete of all time, not only for his on-field accomplishments where he lettered in baseball, basketball, football, track, but even more for his off-field accomplishments. Jackie transcended sports and became an icon of human rights when he became the first African-American to play Major League Baseball.
Robinson was an outstanding major leaguer. He was Rookie of the Year in 1947, the Most Valuable Player in 1949, and a World Series Champ in 1955. He was a 6-time All Star and a first ballot Hall of Famer in 1962. But it was his courage and character as a Major League Player that changed the way a nation thought and functioned, and that accomplishment will forever be unmatched by any who follow him.
In its 146 year history, MLB has retired just one number, Jackie's 42.
Jackie Robinson. A U.C.L.A. Bruin.