It's Jackie Robinson Day across Major League Baseball. The iconic, impactful trailblazer is honored today by all 30 teams wearing the number 42.

Robinson is most notably known for breaking the color barrier in MLB, but he was a multisport athlete. His football days at UCLA led to a Montana "connection."

An excellent article written by Craig Haley at The Analyst detailed "The Day the Montana Grizzlies Played Against Jackie Robinson and UCLA Football." On October 21, 1939, Robinson's UCLA Bruins took down the Montana Grizzlies 20-6 at the famed Los Angeles Coliseum. Doug Fessenden coached the Griz at the time. Fessenden's Griz fell to 1-4 after losing to UCLA. All-time VS UCLA, Montana is 0-6. There were a couple of nuggets from the 1939 game that jumped out to me:

  • Robinson was listed as a halfback but didn't run the ball once against the Griz. The only notable play Robinson was featured in was a 33-yard punt return.
  • Robinson may have immortalized the number 42 in baseball, but it wasn't "42" on the back of his football jersey. Instead, he wore 28.

We know Robinson for his groundbreaking actions on a baseball field, but he also poured in a nice career at the Major League level. He batted .313 for his career, won MVP and a Rookie of the Year Award. What people may not know is he was a terrific punt returner and all-around football player.

"In 1939 and 1940, he led the nation in punt return average. In 1940, he led the Bruins in passing (444 yards), rushing (383 yards) and scoring (36 points)." -

Breaking barriers. Knocking doubles to the gap. Slicing up punt coverage teams.

It's a good thing that Jackie only hit us with a 33-yard punt against the Griz that day. It could've gotten much worse for us.

Today and always we tip the cap to Jackie Robinson for breaking the barrier and cementing himself as a sports and civil rights legend.

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Gallery Credit: Chris Wolfe