This month is the 70th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s entrance into the big leagues and it was unveiled that the long-overdue Jackie Robinson Museum is finally breaking ground in the next few months.
According to MLB, the Jackie Robinson Foundation CEO Della Britton Baeza announced that the JRF received a gift of more than $6 million dollars, allowing them to start construction.
In an article written by Mark Newman of MLB, Sharon Robinson, Jackie’s daughter, was quoted as saying, “The Jackie Robinson Museum is important because it’s my mom’s last big thing that she wanted to achieve, and we feel like we’re going to be ready to start building relatively soon,” said Sharon Robinson, “We’ve been planning this for many years, these things take a long time, and we still have a lot more fundraising to continue to do. But it will sort of give us another branch to the Foundation, and a way to reach the young people and engage them in conversation about life and social change and ongoing issues that we are all having to deal with.”
Jackie Robinson was 28 years old when he broke into the Major Leagues and he won the unified Rookie of the Year Award. He led the National League in stolen bases and batting average, was named to his first All-Star Game, helped the Brooklyn Dodgers win the pennant by one game, and was named the years Most Valuable Player. Major League baseball chose his number as the first one to ever retire for every team.
When it is complete, the museum will be open on Varick Street in New York City and will not only include Robinson’s memorabilia and the story of his career, but will include films and educational programming, as well as, it is said, “a place for vibrant dialogue on critical social issues.
The museum will be finished by 2019, for Jackie Robinson’s 100th anniversary of his birth.
Construction is expected to begin this spring, and further details will be coming soon.
While you wait…
It’s a long time before the museum will be open, but while you are waiting, there are some great movies you can watch and books you can read about this man’s incredible journey.
Let’s start with 42, one of my favorite sports films. It was written and directed by Brian Helgeland and tells the story about the racial integration of American professional baseball and the life and times of Robinson, who wore jersey number 42 through his Major League career. Chadwick Boseman gave a great performance as Jackie Robinson. The movie also stars Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey.
Robinson’s widow, Rachel, was quoted as saying, “I helped them make it,” she said. “It’s very authentic. It was important to me because I wanted it to be an authentic piece. I wanted to get it right. I didn’t want them to make him an angry black man or some stereotype, so it was important for me to be in there . . . I love the movie. I’m pleased with it. It’s authentic and it’s also very powerful.”
The film is well done and inspirational.
Travel to Cooperstown
To celebrate the life and legacy of Jackie Robinson, you can also visit the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. You will see the plaque that honors his legacy as well as watch films and read about his career. There is a spot in the museum that absolutely took my breath away. (Here is a blog post I wrote about my travels to museum.) For me, the most emotional part of the museum was a door marked “Colored Entrance,” which literally took my breath away, and reading about the struggles that black athletes had in the game.
According to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Jack Roosevelt Robinson earned his spot in Cooperstown in 1962 on his first ballot. He was part of an Induction class that included Bob Feller, Bill McKechnie and Edd Roush. Robinson earned votes on 77.5 percent (124 of 160) of all ballots cast. He earned 77.5 percent (124 of 160) of all ballots cast.
Once again, on April 15th, MLB players and on-field personnel will wear number 42 in Jackie’s honor, something they have been doing since 2009.
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