Sliding home: Jackie Robinson gets statue at Dodger Stadium


The only thing to wonder about on the 70th anniversary of Robinson's debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers is why it took Major League Baseball more than a half-century to fully recognize his sacrifice and achievement. It weights 700 pounds and is secured with a 150-pound steel rod.

The life-size statue, which sits in the left field reserve area, is the first statue honoring a former player in the history of Dodger Stadium.

According to president and part-owner Stan Kasten, the statue of Robinson marks the first in a series of sculptures that honor other Dodgers greats.

Robinson was signed by the Dodgers in 1945 and broke the color barrier against the Boston Braves at Ebbets Field.

On the statue's granite base are three of Robinson's quotes as chosen by the family, including wife Rachel's favorite: "A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives". On Saturday, the Dodgers revealed it, on the 70th anniversary of Robinson making his Major League Baseball debut.

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. He used to come home and say, 'I got a standing ovation today.' He'd be shocked.

"We had seen pictures of it, but to see it in person, it was everything we hoped it would be", said Sharon Robinson.

Robinson's widow, Rachel Robinson, as well as his two children, Sharon and David Robinson were also in attendance, and together, the threesome counted down the moment where the blue curtain was dropped at the statue was unveiled to adoring fans and guests.

Robinson would also look to the front offices and he would be saddened. I often ask myself if I could have done what he did - played under that much pressure - and I don't think I could have.

Each year on April 15, Major League Baseball celebrates the life and legacy of Jackie Robinson.

Jackie's success paved the way for more players of color to enter the league the next year, and even more the year after that, and diversity in the league continued to grow.

Despite the inauspicious debut, Robinson would play in 151 games.

I do remember, though, when Robinson, only a few weeks after that appearance, succumbed to complications from heart disease and diabetes at age 53. He was a six-time All-Star, 1949 MLB Rookie of the Year, 1949 National League MVP and was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962 with a 77.5% vote (first ballot).