View Mobile Site
 
Posted: April 15, 2014 6:26 p.m.

Honoring a Legend

Baseball remembers Jackie Robinson

/

Major League Baseball honored Jackie Robinson Tuesday, 67 years after the Georgia native first broke baseball's color barrier.

All across the nation Tuesday Major League Baseball teams honored the 67th anniversary of the day that Jackie Robinson played his first game for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

From New York to San Diego, teams honored and remembered Robinson for his heroic act of breaking baseball’s color barrier in 1947 when he stepped on the field as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Since Robinson’s debut, black baseball players have moved from their segregated Negro League teams to baseball’s grandest stage, allowing thousands of players to succeed in the Big Leagues when there was no opportunity before.

“Remembering Jackie Robinson means taking a look at America at its worst, and at its finest,” Negro Leagues Baseball Museum President Bob Kendrick said. “Jackie Robinson’s story is truly an American triumph. A story like his could only happen in America.”

Kendrick said that Robinson, who came out of the Negro League’s Kansas City Monarchs club, was a symbol for black hope and prosperity during the mid-1900s.

“Out of the ugliness of segregation you have this story of triumph and conquest,” he said. “The Negro Leagues were all based on one small principle — If you won’t let me play with you, we’ll create a league of our own.”

The Negro Leagues paralleled their Major League counterparts from the 1920s to the 1960s, allowing black and Hispanic players the opportunity to showcase their abilities.

“It created a vibrant and thriving black economy,” Kendrick said. “Wherever there was good black baseball, there was a good black economy. That was not only good for the game, but good for society.”

Jackie Robinson Day was highlighted by a ceremony honoring the Georgia native in New York, as the Yankees unveiled a plaque for late South African President Nelson Mandela with Robinson’s wife, Rachel, and daughter, Sharon, in attendance.

In other ballparks, the Minneapolis Twins hosted pregame festivities before their contest with the Blue Jays that featured cultural and musical performances, while the Padres in San Diego hosted 42 children from the local Jackie Robinson YMCA.

Major League Baseball President Bud Selig said that Robinson stood as an icon for all players.

"Jackie Robinson is an American icon whose accomplishments and leadership continue to inspire us in baseball and our society at large," Selig said. "Major League Baseball proudly celebrates his enduring legacy, which is reflected by extraordinary on-field diversity of players from all backgrounds, enthusiastic participation in youth baseball and softball, and proven results in diverse business efforts."

Robinson, who died in 1972 just 16 years after retiring from the game of baseball, still has a lasting legacy perpetuated by his family today. The Jackie Robinson Foundation, created a year after the six-time all-star’s death, provides four-year education scholarships to students of color, developing their leadership potential.

Robinson’s wife said that she and her family couldn’t be prouder of the legacy her husband has left.

"I am quite proud that when Jack stepped onto the field on April 15, 1947, and broke the color barrier in baseball, he helped to further social change in America," Rachel Robinson said. "On behalf of our family and the Jackie Robinson Foundation, we are thrilled that Major League Baseball continues to honor him and works to ensure that what he stood for will not be forgotten by future generations."

Kendrick hopes that young athletes continue to recognize the importance of Robinson’s historic breakthrough.

“Black players back then loved the game in a special way,” Kendrick said. “They had to. Jackie Robinson reminds us that even in different social times, baseball can give us an unparalleled level of joy.

“No sport has united us more as a country than baseball has,” he said. “When baseball opened its door to black players, so did society. That’s no coincidence. It speaks to the reverence baseball has in our country.”

For more information on Robinson, his foundation and his impact on Major League Baseball, visit jackierobinson.org.

Commenting is not available.

Commenting not available.

Please wait ...