Just one week after turning 100 years old Jackie Robinson’s widow Rachel helped to commemorate the opening of a museum dedicated to her husband and Baseball Hall of Fame Jackie Robinson.
With children Sharon and David by her side Rachel attended the gala event in Manhattan that has seen 14 years and a number of delays finally come to life. The museum on Varick Street will not officially open to the public until September 5.
Prior to his mother cutting the ribbon, David Robinson spoke at the ceremony saying, “the issues in baseball, the issues that Jackie Robinson challenged in 1947, they’re still with us. The signs of white only have been taken down, but the complexity of equal opportunity still exists.” He continued, “he was a man who used the word ‘we’. I think today Jackie Robinson would say I accept this honor, but I accept this honor on behalf of something far beyond my individual self, far beyond my family, far beyond even my race. Jackie Robinson would say don’t think of you standing on my shoulders, I think of myself as standing on the shoulders of my mother, who was a sharecropper in Georgia, my grandmother, who was born a slave.”
New York City Mayor Eric Adams also spoke at the event saying, “there’s nowhere on the globe where dream is attached to our name — or our country’s name. There’s not a German dream. There’s not a French dream. There’s not a Polish dream. Darn it, there’s an American dream. And this man and wife took that dream and forced America and baseball to say you’re not going to be a dream on a piece of paper, you’re going to be a dream in life. We are greater because of number 42 and because he had amazing wife that understood that dream and vision.”
Also in attendance were New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, Spike Lee, Billie Jean King, former National League president Len Coleman, former New York Mets owner Fred Wilson, MLB Players Association president Tony Clark,, Baseball Hall of Fame president Josh Rawitch, and former MLB pitcher CC Sabathia who said, “without him, there would be no me. I wouldn’t have been able to live out my dream of playing Major League Baseball.”
In 1947 Jackie Robinson signed a contract with the then Brooklyn Dodgers and with that he became the first man of color to play in the MLB. Prior to that, the only other option for a professional baseball career was in the Negro Leagues.
During his eleven year career Robinson had a career ,313 batting average, 141 home runs, and stole 200 bases. In that time he was the National League Rookie of the Year, a National League batting champion, a. OST Valuable Player in the National League, a seven time All Star, and a member of a World Series champion team. In 1962 he was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
But Robinson was far more than a pioneering baseball player; he helped to promote the issue of civil rights. He died in 1972 at tHe age of 53 as a result of heart disease.
The 19,380 foot facility features 350 artifacts, 450 hours of video footage, and some 40,000 photographs. Among the artifacts are Robinson’s minor league contract, his rookie contract, and playing equipment. The second floor has an educational center.
As a part of the 61st anniversary of Robinson crossing the color line, Rachel announced that they were going to have the museum. Delays in raising money and the Covid pandemic has prevented the project to come to fruition until now.
Tickets for the Jackie Robinson Museum will be $15 for students and $18 for adults.