SUFFOLK, Va. - In Major League Baseball, Friday marks the annual Jackie Robinson Day, commemorating the athlete who broke baseball's color barrier.
This April 15 marks the 75th anniversary of Robinson's historic MLB debut... it's not just the baseball world celebrating his success, though.
The baseball icon has ties to Suffolk's Massimo Zanetti, a coffee roasting company that distributes across the globe.
"He was a member of the team at one point," Chock Full o'Nuts brand manager Laura Templeton said. "It is really cool to have had this rock star come work for the company just like one of us, you know, normal people."
From 1957 to 1964, Robinson served as Vice President of Personnel for the Chock Full o'Nuts coffee brand.
"He was handpicked by the owner and founder of the organization, William Black. William Black clearly saw some qualities in Mr. Robinson that he wanted his employees to be exposed to," Templeton said. "Really inspired the employees while he was there."
It's not just Robinson's historic baseball career that landed him in Cooperstown's Baseball Hall of Fame, but his business executive career as well.
"He wrote to the owner of the Giants telling him that he was actually going to retire from baseball and thank you, but no thank you. I'm gonna go take this business opportunity that I've been given," Templeton said about the contents of Robinson's letter to the Giants. "It's dated January 14, 1957, which was the year that he started with Chock Full o'Nuts. The real letter hangs in the baseball museum hall of fame."
As a way to honor him on the 75th anniversary of his MLB debut, Chock Full o'Nuts teams up with the Jackie Robinson Foundation, creating a limited edition Jackie Robinson coffee can that pays homage to him as both an athlete and business executive.
The product can be found online or in stores where Chock Full o'Nuts is sold.