April 15, 2005


His Legacy Merits More Than a Nod of Approval (Bill Plaschke, April 15, 2005, LA Times)

A little statue, a giant statement.

Those showing up at Dodger Stadium tonight will receive the first-ever action figure of Jackie Robinson, sliding into home plate, elbows up, spikes high.

More compelling, though, is what the statue does not do.

Its head does not bobble.

Rachel Robinson, alone in a world of quick-buck heirloom hawkers, will never approve her husband's image on a bobblehead doll.

Her husband was never one to nod and smile and say yes.

Her husband's mission was never one of compliance.

Her husband's memory will not be trivialized.

"I will not allow a bobblehead, ever," she said Thursday. "It's not in keeping with his manner."

And so the most guarded, honored legacy in sports lives, unmarred by hypocrisy, untouched by greed.

Today is the 58th anniversary of the day Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier and changed America forever.

He is still changing it — with a scholarship foundation that has helped more than 1,000 minority students attend college at a 97% graduation rate.

He is still doing it with little appreciation — only two active major leaguers, Derek Jeter and Royce Clayton, have endowed a scholar.

He is still doing it with little support — the baseball union isn't even a donor.

He is still doing it with almost zero publicity — Rachel, 82, refuses most interview requests because she doesn't want to take his spotlight.

And he is still doing it with quiet defiance.

Before Robinson died of a heart attack at age 53, his hair had long since turned white, his eyesight had been mostly lost, and his strength had virtually disappeared.

Science will blame it on diabetes and heart disease. Baseball folks will tell you it was stress.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 15, 2005 7:52 AM

It would be nice if the Mets could get out of that gawdawful ballpark in Queens and get a new stadium in Brooklyn named after Robinson, even if they can't locate it near the original Ebbets Field (an area with absolutelty no highway connections, a must nowadays even for urban stadiums).

Posted by: John at April 15, 2005 11:21 AM

Robinson and Reese were damn fine role models for just about anybody.

Posted by: ghostcat at April 15, 2005 5:10 PM