Jackie Robinson was football star at UCLA before reaching major leagues

Jackie Robinson was a four-sport star at UCLA, also playing baseball, basketball and running track. (AP photo)

Jackie Robinson was a four-sport star at UCLA, also playing baseball, basketball and running track. (AP photo)

Jackie Robinson became the first black player in the majors in the 20th century on April 15, 1947, a date honored annually by MLB.

But before he played pro baseball, Robinson, who was born in the South Georgia town of Cairo, was a football player at UCLA, where he remains the only person to letter in four sports. He appeared to be a skilled and elusive runner and punt returner in this YouTube video from 1939.

Robinson led the Bruins in rushing (383 yards), passing (444 yards), total offense (827 yards), scoring (36 points) and punt return average (21 yards) in his final year at UCLA.

He also led the nation in punt return average in 1939 (16.5 yards) and 1940 (21).

Robinson finished his two years at UCLA — he had transferred from Pasadena Junior College — with 954 yards rushing (5.9 average) and 449 yards passing.

Robinson even played semi-pro football before being drafted into the Army during World War II and card company Topps issued a card of him in his UCLA uniform in its 2009 Magic set.

Of course, Robinson later gained fame with the Brooklyn

Dodgers and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.


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