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Jackie Robinson Playground

Jackie Robinson Playground

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the 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 playground is located on the former site of Ebbets Field which closed in 1957 after the Dodgers relocated to Los Angeles. It is jointly operated by Parks and the Board of Education. It was acquired by the City when I.S. 320 was built in 1964, and opened to the public on October 16, 1969. It was named for Jackie Robinson by Commissioner Stern in 1985, in honor of his achievements on this very site.

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