Long Overdue, Jackie Robinson Museum Finally Opens in New York (Special from the IBWAA)
By Dan Schlossberg (Special from the IBWAA)
This article was featured in “Here’s The Pitch” the newsletter of the IBWAA and is shared with permission. This article was published in September 2022.
Fourteen years after his widow announced the project, Jackie Robinson is finally getting a lasting memorial: a museum that will take visitors on an interactive journey through the baseball pioneer’s life and career.
Opened on Sept. 5, the museum contains artifacts, memorabilia, and photographs in a 20,000-square foot space.
It features a model of Ebbets Field, where Robinson broke in with the 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers and embarked on a 10-year career that led to Cooperstown, plus Robinson’s Rookie of the Year and MVP trophies, his Presidential Medal of Freedom and even his military uniform.
Even Robinson’s U.S. Army court martial, in which he was acquitted, is included.
According to the TODAY show, the museum divides Robinson’s life into categories: as entrepreneur, activist, soldier, and family man.
“We wanted that first impression to be, wow, he did all those things on all those different fronts,” said Della Britton, president and CEO of the Jackie Robinson Foundation. “He was doing activism — and it was really more simultaneous, it wasn’t sequential — the same time he was in the military . . . because he was petitioning to make sure there was equality in the military.”
As Hank Aaron once said, “Jackie’s character was much more important than his batting average.”
That batting average — and his other achievements on the field — were impressive. He starred at three different positions, made the National League All-Star team seven times, and won a batting title and World Series ring. He hit .311 with 197 steals and 137 homers from 1947-57, then refused a trade to the New York Giants and retired.
Baseball fans will love tinkering with the model of Ebbets Field, which lights up as various stories are told. It not only highlights where famous plays were made but also where Rachel Robinson was sitting in the stands a the time.
The opening coincides with the 75th anniversary of the year Robinson broke into the big leagues, breaking the Modern Era color line.
Celebrities at opening ceremonies included Spike Lee, Billie Jean King, and New York City Mayor Eric Adams. Rachel Robinson and two of her children cut the ribbon at the grand opening.
HTP weekend editor Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ can’t wait to get to the museum. In the meantime, he’s covering the Braves-Mets title chase and other stretch-drive baseball for forbes.com, Latino Sports, USA TODAY Sports Weekly, Sports Collectors Digest, and various other outlets.