Jackie Robinson Park
Jackie Robinson Park
Jackie Robinson (1919-1972) is legendary for his pioneering role as the first black professional baseball player in the major leagues. He was born in Cairo, Georgia, on January 31, 1919 and raised in Pasadena, California. Robinson’s success was foretold at the University of California at Los Angeles, where he became the first student to earn letters in four sports: baseball, basketball, football and track. He then played football for the Los Angeles Bulldogs, before serving in the army during World War II. After the war, Robinson played baseball in the Negro Leagues for the Kansas City Monarchs. His talent was soon recognized by Branch Rickey, general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, who signed Robinson on August 28, 1945 to join the Montreal Royals in the International League. The Royals were the Dodgers’ top farm team.
On April 15, 1947, Robinson made history as the first African-American to play in a major league baseball game. He paved the way for generations of black athletes to compete in America’s national pastime. Professional baseball, however, did not become fully integrated until 1959, when the Boston Red Sox signed Elijah Green.
Robinson went on to lead the Dodgers, as a second baseman, to six World Series appearances. He retired in 1956 with a lifetime batting average of .311. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962. Robinson then became involved with the Chock Full O’ Nuts restaurant chain as well as a number of black-owned community enterprises, such as Freedom National Bank (which he co-founded), and a land development firm. He was also active in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and served as a special assistant to Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller. Robinson died of heart disease on October 24, 1972, at his home in Greenwich, Connecticut.
This park was acquired by the City of New York between 1894-99 and opened as a playground in 1911. Originally called Colonial Park, its construction was part of a nation-wide reform effort to provide organized play to children in inner cities. In the 1930s, Parks utilized the resources of the Works Progress Administration to further improve the park. Parks architect Aymar Embury II designed an additional playground, basketball and volleyball courts, roller skating areas, and a wading pool. The opening of the Colonial Park Pool, one of ten pools completed in 1936 by Robert Moses, attracted an audience of 25,000 people.
A bronze bust of Jackie Robinson by Inge Hardison was installed inside the pool and recreation center entryway at West 147th Street and Bradhurst Avenue in 1981. The park was renamed for Jackie Robinson in 1978 under a local law introduced by Councilmember Fred Samuel and signed by Mayor Edward I. Koch.
Directions to Jackie Robinson Park
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