The first statue in Dodger Stadium history belongs to Jackie Robinson.
On the 70th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the baseball color barrier, it's not just Major League Baseball remembering the Hall of Famer.
Twenty years ago today, baseball retired Robinson's No. 42, in a dramatic announcement madeat Shea Stadium in NY by Commissioner Bud Selig, who was flanked by Robinson's widow, Rachel Robinson; and President Bill Clinton. Over the following 12 seasons, eight of the National League MVP awards were won by black men.
While MLB has made progress in its hiring practices, it has lost ground over the past generation in its ability to attract African-American athletes to the sport. The statue depicts Robinson stealing home as a rookie with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, a nod to the aggressive baserunning of the six-time All-Star.
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"It's emotional", Jackie Robinson's daughter Sharon said this week.
The Dodgers play the Diamondbacks that day. It stands in the left field reserve plaza, with sweeping views of downtown Los Angeles in one direction and Elysian Park in the other. It weights 700 pounds and is secured with a 150-pound steel rod.
Robinson's 94-year-old widow, Rachel, also is scheduled to be there, along with Sharon and David, the Robinsons' son. He used to come home and say, 'They gave me a standing ovation, ' and [he] was so shocked. "My dad was a humble person".
Though Major League Baseball is celebrating the 70th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's inaugural game, the current rosters are said to be less integrated than they have been in decades. Robinson, 37, holds a banner for the rival New York Giants baseball club to which he was traded for relief pitcher Dick Littlefield and $35,000 in cash. "There's still lots and lots of struggles in this world and it's a very complicated place". Campanis also tutored Robinson on how to protect himself when opposing players tried to spike him, which happened more often because he was black.