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Notable People Named Karen

Today is my sister Karen's birthday. (Happy Birthday, Karen!) The anniversary of her birth is a good time to start a new feature, which we're calling "Notable People Named _______."

The concept is pretty simple: If you know of a notable person with that name, leave a comment explaining why he or she belongs on our list. They need not be famous. Beloved teachers or old roommates or nice waitresses are all welcome.

If we're going to create the definitive list of notable Karens, we'd better get started. We'll alternate boys and girls through the alphabet, like weatherpeople do with hurricanes.

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Getty Images/Hulton Archive
42 Facts About Jackie Robinson
Getty Images/Hulton Archive
Getty Images/Hulton Archive

On April 15, Major League Baseball celebrates Jackie Robinson Day. On that day in 1947—nearly 70 years ago—Robinson broke the baseball color line and became the first African American to play on a major sports team. Here are 42 facts to celebrate.

1. Jack "Jackie" Roosevelt Robinson was born January 31, 1919, in Cairo, Ga. Shortly after his birth, his family moved and settled in Pasadena, Calif.

2. President Theodore Roosevelt, who died 25 days before Robinson was born, was the inspiration for his middle name.

3. He was the youngest of five children—Edgar, Frank, Matthew “Mack,” and Willa Mae—and grew up in relative poverty in a well-off community in Pasadena.

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4. Robinson attended John Muir High School, where he was placed on the Pomona Annual Baseball Tournament All-Star Team with fellow future Baseball Hall of Famers Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox and Bob Lemon of the Cleveland Indians.

5. He was also an accomplished tennis player, winning the junior boys singles championship in the Pacific Coast Negro Tennis Tournament.

6. Jackie’s brother Mack was an adept athlete and a splendid sprinter. He won a Silver Medal in the 200 meters behind Jesse Owens during the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany.

7. In 1942, Jackie Robinson was drafted into the Army. He was assigned to a segregated Army Cavalry unit in Fort Riley, Kansas.

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8. While in the Army, Robinson became friends with boxing champion Joe Louis when the heavyweight, who was stationed at Fort Riley at the time, used his celebrity to protest the delayed entry of black soldiers in an Office Candidate School (OCS). As a result, Robinson was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1943.

9. After an incident where he refused to sit in the back of an unsegregated bus, military police arrested Robinson at the request of a duty officer, who later requested Robinson be court-martialed. At the time of the proceedings, Robinson was prohibited from being deployed overseas to the World War II battlefronts. He never saw combat during the war.

10. Robinson was acquitted and then assigned to Camp Breckinridge in Kentucky, where he worked as an Army athletics coach until he was given an honorable discharge in 1944. During his time at the camp, Robinson was encouraged to tryout for the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro National League.

11. In 1945, Robinson signed a contract to play for the Kansas City Monarchs. He was paid $400 a month (about $5100 today) to play shortstop and eventually was placed in the Negro League All-Star Game that year.

12. Robinson married Rachel Islum—who he had met in 1941 during his senior year at UCLA—in 1946. They had their first son, Jackie Robinson Jr., that November. The Robinsons had two more children: a daughter, Sharon, and another son, David.

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13. Robinson played Minor League Baseball for the Montreal Royals in 1946, until he was called up to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers in the Major Leagues in 1947.

14. He made his Major League Baseball debut on April 15, 1947, at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, New York. He became the first African-American baseball player in Major League history.

15. He also won Rookie of the Year in 1947 with a batting average of .297, 175 hits, 12 home runs, and 48 runs batted in.

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16. Jackie Robinson had a close friendship with Larry Doby of the Cleveland Indians, who was the first African-American baseball player in the American League. The two men broke the color barrier in baseball in the same year and would talk to each other on the telephone to share their experiences with racism during the season.

17. Dodgers teammate Pee Wee Reese defended Robinson against violent and nasty racial slurs during his rookie season. Reese famously put his arm around him and said, “You can hate a man for many reasons. Color is not one of them,” as a response to fans shouting racial slurs at Robinson.

18. On August 29, 1948, in a 12-7 win against the St. Louis Cardinals, Robinson “hit for the cycle” with a home run, a triple, a double, and then a single in the same game.

19. Robinson was the National League Batting and Stolen Bases Champion with a batting average of .342 and 37 stolen bases in 1949.

20. He was also a six time All-Star between the years 1949 to 1954.

21. In 1949, Robinson was called to testify before the United States House of Representatives’ Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC). He was subpoenaed because of comments made about him by prominent African-American actor Paul Robson. At first, Robinson was hesitant to testify, but then was ultimately compelled to do so because he feared not doing so would hurt his baseball career.

22. The National League’s Most Valuable Player Award went to Robinson in 1949, after his first appearance in the MLB All-Star Game. Robinson later took his team to the World Series, but would lose against the New York Yankees.

Courtesy of MoviePosterShop

23. Jackie Robinson played himself in The Jackie Robinson Story, a biopic about his life released in 1950. Academy Award-nominated female actor Ruby Dee played Robinson’s wife Rachel “Rae” Isum Robinson.

24. During the off-season, Robinson went on a vaudeville and speaking tour of the South, where he would answer pre-set questions about his life. He actually made more money on these tours than he did on his contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

25. Robinson played in six World Series, but only won one in 1955 against the New York Yankees in a seven game series. Robinson didn’t play in 49 games that season and missed Game 7; Don Hoak played third base in Robinson’s place.

26. At 37, Robinson retired from Major League Baseball and the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1956 due to the visible effects of diabetes. Unbeknownst to the Brooklyn Dodgers, Robinson took a position with the American coffee company Chock Full O’ Nuts and agreed to quit baseball.

27. From 1957 to 1964, Jackie Robinson served as the vice president of personnel for Chock Full O’ Nuts coffee. He was the first African-American vice president of a major American corporation.

28. Robinson was a political independent, but had very conservative views on the Vietnam War. He also supported Richard Nixon in the 1960 Presidential election against John F. Kennedy, although Robinson admired Kennedy’s stance on civil rights once he was elected. He was later dismayed with Republicans for not supporting the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and soon after became a Democrat.

29. In 1962, Jackie Robinson was inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame during his first year of eligibility. He was the first African American inducted at the Cooperstown Hall of Fame and Museum.

30. Jackie Robinson was always seen as a large figure in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said Robinson was “a legend and symbol in his own time” who “challenged the dark skies of intolerance and frustration.”

31. In 1964, Robinson co-founded the Freedom National Bank—a black owned and operated bank in Harlem, New York—with businessman Dunbar McLaurin. Robinson was the commercial bank’s first Chairman of the Board. His wife later served as Chairman until 1990 when the bank closed.

Wikimedia Commons

32. Robinson was also the first African-American TV sports analyst. He broadcasted for ABC’s Major League Baseball Game of the Week telecasts in 1965. Robinson later worked as a part-time commentator for the Montreal Expos in 1972.

33. On June 4, 1972, the Dodgers retired Jackie Robinson’s uniform number 42, as well as Sandy Koufax’s number 32 and Roy Campanella’s number 39.

34. Robinson died of a heart attack on October 24, 1972 in Stamford, Connecticut, at age 53.

35. In 1973, Robinson’s widow, Rachel, started the Jackie Robinson Foundation, a non-profit organization that gives college scholarships to minorities. The Foundation also preserves the legacy of Jackie Robinson as a baseball player and a civil rights pioneer.

36. The house in Brooklyn, New York, where Jackie Robinson lived while he played for the Brooklyn Dodgers was declared a National Historical Landmark in 1976.

37. On March 1, 1981, American astronomer Schelte John “Bobby” Bus discovered an asteroid at the Siding Spring Observatory in New South Wales, Australia. Bus named the asteroid “4319 Jackierobinson,” after his favorite baseball player.

38. President Ronald Reagan posthumously awarded Jackie Robinson with the Presidential Medal of Freedom—the highest award given to a civilian for their contributions to world peace, cultural, or other significant public or private endeavors—on March 26, 1984.

39. You won't see any baseball players wearing the number 42: In 1997, Robinson’s number was retired throughout Major League Baseball. This was the first and only time a jersey number had been retired throughout an entire professional sports league.

40. In 1999, Robinson was added to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team along with Cal Ripken Jr., Joe DiMaggio, Willie Mays, and Ty Cobb. Fans chose the final selections from a list compiled of the 100 greatest Major League Baseball players from the past century.

Courtesy of Michael G. Baron

41. April 15, 2004, became Jackie Robinson Day and all uniformed players in Major League Baseball were required to wear number 42 on their jerseys to honor Robinson’s memory and legacy to the sport.

42. More than 20 years after he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, President George W. Bush also posthumously awarded Jackie Robinson with the Congressional Gold Medal—the highest honor the legislative branch can bestow on a civilian and must be co-sponsored by two-thirds of members in the House and the Senate—for his contributions to American history. He became the second baseball player to receive this accolade after Pittsburgh Pirates Right-Fielder Roberto Clemente in 1973.

An earlier version of this article appeared in 2013.

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George Pickow, Hulton Archive // Getty Images
Who's Buried in Westminster Abbey?
George Pickow, Hulton Archive // Getty Images
George Pickow, Hulton Archive // Getty Images

London's Westminster Abbey is not only a grand and glorious place of worship, but also the final resting place of monarchs and their consorts, nobility, greats from literary history, composers, and scientists who contributed to the history and culture of England.

1. Charles Darwin

The English naturalist Charles Darwin was buried at the Abbey shortly after his death in 1882. He is best known for his work on human evolution, but first came to fame for his journal that was published after a voyage on a survey ship.

2. Aphra Behn

Poet and playwright Aphra Behn was once employed by King Charles II as an agent during the Dutch War, but nobody believed her when she told them, in advance, of a raid that did eventually happen. She was buried in the Abbey in 1689.

3. Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond

Margaret was the grandmother of King Henry VIII who established two colleges of Cambridge — Christ's College and St. John's College. Her tomb in the Abbey features an effigy, which was likely molded on a death mask.

4. Elizabeth Claypole

When Charles II ordered the bodies of Elizabeth Claypole's father, Oliver Cromwell, and his followers to be disinterred upon the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, her final resting place remained undisturbed in the Abbey. Cromwell's body did not get the same treatment of course, as his corpse was then hanged and decapitated. Finally, his head was displayed on a pole outside the Parliament building, and then his body was chucked into a pit underneath the gallows.

5. Sir Isaac Newton

The famed astronomer, mathematician and scientist is best known for his work on motion and laws of gravitation. He died in 1727 at age 84 and is buried close to an impressive marble monument in the Abbey.

6. Mary Eleanor Bowes

Mary Eleanor Bowes, Countess Dowager of Strathmore, is an ancestor of Queen Elizabeth II and is said to have been buried in Westminster Abbey wearing an elaborate bridal gown. She began divorce proceedings during her second marriage, but was abducted by her husband. She was later rescued, and her husband was thrown in jail.

7. Charles Dickens

The grave of Charles Dickens is in what is known as Poets' Corner, and his stone is marked with a simple inscription, which was etched out at his own request — instead of an elaborate engraving, he preferred that his works speak for him.

8. David Livingstone

The Scottish explorer David Livingstone died in the middle of Africa in 1873. His heart was buried under a mpundu tree but his body was embalmed and shipped back to London, where it arrived the following year, for burial at the Abbey.

9. William Murray, Lord Mansfield

William Murray was a lawyer and a judge who helped end slavery in England with his decision on Somerset v. Stewart, which found that slavery was unsupported in common law.

10. Laurence Olivier

The ashes of Laurence Olivier, who died in 1989, lie in front of Shakespeare's memorial in Poets' Corner. During his funeral services, attendees heard a recording of the actor himself reading from Henry V.

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