Bottom line: The beginning of Jackie Robinson’s Major League Baseball career has been well-documented as he became the first black player to play in the big leagues in the modern era.
But the end of his major league career is also noteworthy. His retirement was so surprising that his own team didn’t even know about it and tried to trade him when he was already retired.
After the 1956 season, Robinson decided to retire to become an executive for a New York coffee company. He also had sold the exclusive rights of his retirement story to a magazine so it was to be revealed there instead of through the Dodgers.
But since the Dodgers were unaware of Robinson’s decision, they tried trading him for a journeyman pitcher and some cash. When it finally came to light that Robinson was retired, the trade was voided.
Following his playing days, Robinson became the first black MLB television analyst and first black executive for a major American corporation, Chock full o'Nuts. In addition, he helped create an African-American-owned financial institution in Harlem, New York, called the Freedom National Bank.
Robinson died of a heart attack in 1972 at the age of 53. After his death, Robinson was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal and Presidential Medal of Freedom for his lifetime achievements.