JACKIE ROBINSON AND THE LOS ANGELES RED DEVILS
Contributed by Al Kirk and Robert Bradley
Jackie Robinson is certainly best-know as the first African-American player in Major League Baseball. Few people realize that while in college at UCLA Baseball was far from Robinson's best sport. Robinson excelled at track and field, football (alongside future NFL pioneer Kenny Washington) and basketball. He remains UCLA's only four-sport letterman (football 1939 and 1940, basketball 1940 and 1941, track and field 1940 and baseball 1940). As a football player at UCLA Robinson led the nation in punt return average in 1939 (16.5 yards) and 1940 (21.0 yards) and his career average of 18.8 yards ranks fourth in NCAA history. During his senior year he led UCLA in rushing (383 yards), passing (444 yards), total offense (827 yards), scoring (36 points) and punt returns (21.0 yards). In his career, he rushed for 954 yards (5.9 average) and passed for 449 yards.
As a basketball player Robinson led Pacific Coast Conference's Southern Division in scoring in both 1940 (12.4 average in 12 league games) and 1941 (11.1 average in 12 league games) and was named All-PCC Southern Division in 1940. Robinson's UCLA track career was abbreviated as he missed most of the 1940 season while playing baseball but he still managed to win the NCAA title in the broad jump (24' 10 1/4") as well as the broad jump at the Pacific Coast Conference meet with a leap of 25' 0".
Ironically, Robinson's least impressive accomplishments in college were as a baseball player as he batted .097 during the California Intercollegiate Baseball Association's 1940 season. In his first game (10Mar40), he totaled four hits and stole four bases, including home once.
After his military service during World War II Robinson signed a baseball contract with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues in April of 1945. Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey then signed Robinson (who had an earlier tryout for the Boston Red Sox) and he was assigned to their Montreal Royals minor league club. On 15Apr47 Robinson made his Major League Baseball debut, playing first base against the Philadelphia Phillies who were managed by Ben Chapman (a southerner who was vocal in his opposition to integration. Chapman would also spent his offseason involved in basketball as the coach of the Birmingham team in the Southern Basketball League in 1948-49). The signing of Robinson was a tremendous success for the Dodgers as he was named National League Rookie of the Year in 1947 and MVP in 1949. Robinson's trademark was his aggressive, take no prisoner style of play. And with Robinson the Dodgers would reach the World Series in 1947, 1949, 1952, 1953, 1955 and 1956. Robinson retired as a player in 1956 after the Dodgers tried to trade him to their hated rivals, the New York Giants.
Robinson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962 and was named as a charter member of UCLA's Athletic Hall of Fame in 1984.
1946-47 LOS ANGELES RED DEVILS
GAME RESULTS OA - Olympic Auditorium EM - El Monte American Legion Floor LH - Loyola High School Gymnasium
DATE SITE OPPONENT (LEAGUE) OPP-LA NOTES 8Nov46 OA Sheboygan Red Skins (NBL) 36-42 9Nov46 OA Sheboygan Red Skins (NBL) 38-39 15Nov46 OA Harlem Renaissance 43-47 16Nov46 OA Harlem Renaissance 25-46 22Nov46 OA Chicago American Gears (NBL) 59-56 23Nov46 OA Chicago American Gears (NBL) 46-47 Robinson 13 PTS 29Nov46 OA Salem Trailblazers (PCPBL) 40-58 Robinson 12 PTS 30Nov46 OA Salem Trailblazers (PCPBL) 61-37 Robinson 8 PTS 4Dec46 EM March Field Flyers 31-39 Robinson 9 PTS 6Dec46 OA Flint Dow A.C.'s 38-46 7Dec46 OA Flint Dow A.C.'s 46-57 Robinson 11 PTS 20Dec46 OA San Diego Wizards 34-44 Robinson 11 PTS 21Dec46 OA San Diego Wizards ----- Game Cancelled 3Jan47 OA San Francisco All-Nations 28-37 Robinson 4 PTS 4Jan47 OA San Francisco All-Nations 22-59 15Jan47 LH Broadway Clowns 30-26 16Jan47 LH Broadway Clowns 27-40
LOS ANGELES DEVILS ROSTER
Bob Cotton Cochrane Geore Crowe F Cunningham Davis Freeze G Genrdum Everett "Ziggy" Marcell G Miller F Irv Noren F Eddie Oran G Redford Jackie Robinson F Art Stoefen C