Jackie Robinson Playground
Jackie Robinson Playground
What was here before?
Jackie Robinson Playground is located on the former site of Ebbets Field, home to the Brooklyn Dodgers before it closed in 1957 after the team moved to Los Angeles. The Dodgers joined the National League in 1890 as the “Trolley Dodgers,” and won the championship in their rookie year. The first home of the Dodgers was in Brooklyn’s Washington Park, but as the club grew in popularity, owner Charles Ebbets decided to move his team to a brand-new park in Flatbush. Construction began at “Ebbets Field” on March 4, 1912, and the new field was officially dedicated on April 9, 1913.
How did this site become a playground?
The City acquired the site when I.S. 320 was built in 1964, and the playground opened to the public on October 16, 1969. This playground is a Jointly Operated Playground (JOP) serving P.S. 320 and the local community. Beginning in 1938, the Board of Education (now the Department of Education) agreed to provide land next to schools where NYC Parks could build and maintain playgrounds that could be used by the school during the day and by the public when school is not in session. In 2017, the playground was completely reconstructed.
Who is this playground named for?
In 1985, this playground was renamed to honor former Dodger Jackie Robinson (1919-1972), the first African-American Major League Baseball player, for his many achievements at this site. 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 Dodger’s 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 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.