Sunday, April 16, 2017


Photo: Associated Press
Saturday marked the 70th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in major league baseball. The Dodgers paid tribute to Jackie’s legacy by unveiling a new bronze statue that will be on permanent display in the stadium’s left field pavilion. 

Many baseball fans know Jackie’s story—after making his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, he quickly established himself as one of the best players in the game. He was praised for his poise, integrity, and work ethic as he integrated baseball. He’s often credited for paving the way for minorities to play professionally in other sports leagues. 

The actual statue is quite impressive and shows a rookie Jackie Robinson stealing home plate—a pose that perfectly captures his hustle and competitive spirit. I’m honestly surprised it took this long for Jackie to get a statue at Dodger stadium—even Shaq got a statue at Staples Center before Jackie!—but glad that the new Dodger ownership and specifically Mark Walter recognized that this was something that needed to be done and invested the money to do it. 

Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA Today Sports
The unveiling ceremony featured Jackie’s family—his wife Rachel is almost 95 years old and looks amazing—as well as Dodger royalty Sandy Koufax, Don Newcombe, Tommy Lasorda, and Vin Scully. 

Vin, who was a young announcer when Jackie played, recalled the time Robinson had challenged him to a race on ice skates and told the audience of a darker story from Jackie’s playing days when he once received a serious death threat. Scully intimated that on the day the incident was supposed to take place, the locker room was extremely intense and quiet. The silence was finally broken by left fielder Gene Hermanski, who suggested that all the players wear number 42 so the would-be assassin wouldn’t know which one was Jackie Robinson.

“Now that seemed funny at the day,” said Scully. “In 2004, Gene Hermanski’s words in 1950 came to fruition. We’ll all wear number 42…And all across the country, in every major league ballpark, every player will be wearing 42.”

Engraved on Jackie’s statue is one of his famous quotes:  “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” Jackie’s courage helped open the doors for so many people and created social change. His family continues to help others with the Jackie Robinson Foundation which provides college scholarships to young minorities. 

--Alexis Garcia

BYB's "Eye on MLB" Columnist
Twitter:  @heylexyg

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