Last year, the Los Angeles Dodgers unveiled a new statue of Jackie Robinson outside the stadium. As the 70th anniversary of Robinson breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball was observed across MLB, the Dodgers’ celebrated his legacy and impact on baseball and society with much fanfare – including the installation of this amazing statue.
My main goal in visiting Dodger Stadium a few weeks ago was to see this statue. It is truly awe-inspiring. The remarkably detailed statue shows Robinson sliding home. On the base of the statue are several quotes from Robinson including one of my favorites, “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”
Check out the video below from CBS News documenting the event.
I’ve always loved Dodger Stadium. Maybe its because its one of the three oldest MLB stadiums still in use. Maybe its because its all the way across the country in the Golden State, the land of stars, the land of milk and honey. Or, perhaps, its the the lure and lore of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Whatever the reason, there’s just something about Dodger Stadium and the Los Angeles Dodgers that always draws me in.
So, when I found myself in Los Angeles recently for a business trip, I had to visit Dodger Stadium. It didn’t matter that I’d been there before, or that it was the off season, or that I was with non-baseball fan coworkers. I had to make the pilgrimage.
What many folks might not know is that Dodger Stadium is open on days there are no games – even during the off-season. You simply enter at Gate A (Sunset Gate) at the corner of Vin Scully Avenue and Stadium Way. Inform the person at the gate that you want to visit the gift shop and follow his or her directions to get to Lot P (i.e., “follow the blue line”). Eventually you’ll end up at the top level of the stadium and can go right into the gift shop.
Just outside the gates is the retired numbers plaza, where you’ll see giant statues of the Dodgers’ retired numbers – chief among them is no. 42. To the left you’ll see a staircase that will take you down to the Left Field Reserve Level, where you’ll find the recently installed Jackie Robinson statue (more on that tomorrow). After visiting the gift shop, you can enter the stadium. An existential, life-affirming feeling will take hold of you as you soak it all in. You will be one with the baseball gods.
The Dodgers offer a variety of stadium tours and for select dates through March 4 have a pop-up museum commemorating their 60 years in Los Angeles.
I stumbled across this documentary yesterday as it made its debut on the television channel TV One. “A Long Way From Home: The Untold Story of Baseball’s Desegregation” tells the story of minority players in the major leagues with the backdrop of a still segregated society. Players highlighted include: James “Mudcat” Grant, Orlando Cepeda, Tony Pérez, Jimmy Wynn, Grover “Deacon” Jones, J.R. Richard, Enos Cabell, Octavio “Cookie” Rojas, Orlando Peña, and Bobby Tolan.
The documentary highlights the everyday struggles of black and Latino players – from being asked to leave a restaurant the white players were welcome at, to being told they had to speak English, to having to play through injury. This is definitely must-see TV! Check out the preview below.
In keeping with my posts this past week about Mack and Jackie Robinson, I figured it was time to provide some of Mack’s stats. While he didn’t play baseball, as Jackie’s older brother we can probably assume he had some impact on the sport of baseball.
The website sports-reference.com provides information on a variety of sports – including (at least for the time being) Olympic sports such as track and field. Their page on Mack Robinson provides information on Mack’s accomplishments in the 1936 Summer Olympics held in Berlin, Germany. Mack won the silver medal in the men’s 200 meter dash, finishing second only to Jesse Owens, who ran the race in 20.7 seconds, compared to Mack’s 21.1 seconds.
Other stats on Mack Robinson are hard to find all in one place, so here’s a brief summary from the research I’ve done:
1937: set a national junior college record in the 100 meter spring (9.6 seconds), the 220 meter (20.9 seconds), and long jump (25 feet, 5.5 inches) at Pasadena Junior College. (The long jump record would be broken again in 1938 by Jackie.)
1938: won National collegiate and Amateur Athletic Union track titles at the University of Oregon.
However, although the above information is easily found, I couldn’t find anything else on Mack’s stats from his college days. I’ll have to dig deeper. Until then, if anyone has any other information on Mack Robinson, please let me know!