Jackie Robinson Park
“Life owes me nothing. Baseball owes me nothing. But I cannot as an individual, rejoice in the good things I have been permitted to work for and learn while the humblest of my brothers is down in a deep hole, hollering for help and not being heard.”
This bronze portrait bust mounted on the wall of the entryway of Manhattan’s Jackie Robinson Recreation Center depicts Jackie Robinson (1919–1972), the first African American Major League Baseball player. The piece was created by Inge Hardison (b. 1904) and was installed in the recreation center at West 147th Street and Bradhurst Avenue in 1981.
Robinson was born in Cairo, Georgia, and raised in Pasadena, California. Robinson’s athletic prowess became evident at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he became the first student to letter in four sports: baseball, basketball, football, and track. Robinson played professional 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, where he caught the eye of Branch Rickey (1881–1965), general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Rickey signed Robinson on August 28, 1945 to join the Montreal Royals, the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate in the International League. For two years, Robinson toiled in the minor leagues. On April 15, 1947 Robinson made history as the first black man to play in a Major League baseball game, paving the way for generations of black athletes to compete in America’s national pastime.
Renowned as a top-notch second baseman and a fierce competitor, Robinson led the Dodgers to six World Series appearances. He retired in 1956 with a lifetime batting average of .311, and 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. He also became active in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and served as a special advisor to New York Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller (1908–1979). Robinson died of a heart attack at his home in Greenwich, Connecticut in 1972.
Sculptor Hardison has many pieces in the Everson Museum of Art of Syracuse and Onondaga County, Syracuse, New York, including busts of Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman. The piece was sponsored by the Harlem Cultural Council with a grant from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs’ Community Arts Development, and serves to inspire and remind young people of the power within all of us to overcome life’s obstacles.
Jackie Robinson Details
- Location: West 147th St. and Bradhurst Avenue
- Sculptor: Inge Hardison
- Description: Bust, two plaques
- Materials: Bronze
- Cast: 1981
- Dedicated: November 10, 1981
- Foundry: Modern Art Foundry, Inc.
- Donor: NYC Department of Cultural Affairs' Community Arts, funded by US Department of HUD
- Inscription: [top plaque]
JACKIE ROBINSON / 1919 1972 / FIRST BLACK MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL PLAYER / "LIFE OWES ME NOTHING. BASEBALL OWES ME NOTHING. / BUT I CANNOT, AS AN INDIVIDUAL REJOICE IN THE GOOD THINGS I HAVE BEEN / PERMITTED TO WORK FOR AND LEARN WHILE THE HUMBLEST OF / MY BROTHERS IS DOWN IN A DEEP HOLE HOLLERING FOR HELP / AND NOT BEING HEARD." /
SCULPTURE OF JACKIE ROBINSON BY INGE HARDISON / PRODUCED BY HARLEM CULTURAL COUNCIL, INC. WITH / A GRANT FROM THE NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT / OF CULTURAL AFFAIRS COMMUNITY ARTS DEVELOPMENT / PROGRAM FUNDED BY THE UNITED STATES / DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT. /
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