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.
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!
As I noted previously, there are several monuments to Jackie Robinson in his hometown of Pasadena, CA. Across the street from City Hall is the Pasadena Robinson Memorial, which is a tribute to Jackie and his brother, Mack Robinson. Installed in 1997, the memorial honors these hometown heroes by recognizing their contributions beyond the world of sports. According to the sculptors’ website, “From afar the heads are perceived as traditional likenesses. As one draws nearer, however, it becomes apparent that text and bas relief imagery are embedded in their hair, allowing multiple allusions to their accomplishments in politics and community service, as well as sports.”
Outside of the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena stands another statue of Jackie Robinson. The statue, dedicated on November 29, 2017, was a gift from the Tull Family Foundation. The statute depicts Robinson wearing a football uniform. Robinson had played football while in college at Pasadena City College and UCLA. In 1938, he returned a kickoff at the Rose Bowl Stadium, running 104 yards for a touchdown – the longest in stadium history.
These aren’t the only tributes to Robinson in Pasadena, however. Across the road from the Rose Bowl Stadium in Brookside Park is Jackie Robinson Baseball Stadium, which can hold 4,200 spectators. To the west of Brookside Park, in Jackie’s old neighborhood and less than half a mile from his childhood home, you’ll find Robinson Park. Across the street from there is the Jackie Robinson Community Center. The Center serves the community by providing the city services “with a collaborative and holistic approach.” Community-based organizations and other resources are housed at the center.
The city of Pasadena, CA, is alive with memories of Jackie Robinson – if you know where to look. Jack Roosevelt Robinson was born in Cairo, GA, on January 31, 1919. A year later his family moved to Pasadena. Along with another family, Jackie’s mother purchased a home at 121 Pepper Street. She would become sole owner a few years later.
Unfortunately, the house at 121 Pepper Street was torn down in the 1970s. In its place now stands a contemporary house built in 1977 on 123 Pepper Street (which is currently on the market for a mere $649,000). Outside the house, if you look down on the sidewalk, is a small plaque marking the location as the place the Robinsons once lived.
But that’s not the only place in Pasadena where you can find Jackie’s influence. Tune in on Thursday for more info!
Views of 123 Pepper Street, Pasadena, CA (February 2018)