NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — With the movie “42” bringing the Jackie Robinson story to a new generation, fans young and old may be inspired to visit some of the places in Brooklyn connected to the African-American athlete who integrated Major League Baseball when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.
In Coney Island, a statue portrays Robinson and Pee Wee Reese, the white Dodger who stood by him in the face of racist taunts.
It’s inscribed with the story of how Reese, captain of the Dodgers, “stood by Jackie Robinson against prejudiced fans and fellow players — silencing the taunts of the crowd” during a game in Cincinnati.
“He [Reese] puts his arm around Jackie’s shoulder and he rubs his hand across the word ‘Dodgers’ on his chest,” former teammate, pitcher Ralph Branca, told 1010 WINS’ John Montone.
At the cemetery on the border of Brooklyn and Queens where Robinson is buried, admirers still leave baseballs and other mementos.
And for fans who enjoy irony — or who remain bitter about the Dodgers’ departure to Los Angeles in 1957 — there’s a “No Ball Playing” sign at the housing complex where the Dodgers’ storied stadium, Ebbets Field, once stood.
Joseph Dorinson, author of “Jackie Robinson: Race, Sports and the American Dream,” says it’s no accident that the color barrier was broken by a Brooklyn team.
“Jackie made it in Brooklyn, and no other place, because of the multicultural and ethnic diversity here,” he said.
Robinson lived in several places in Brooklyn before moving to Queens and later Connecticut with his wife and children.
On a tidy block in East Flatbush, a two-story brick house at 5224 Tilden Ave. with a rusting fence and peeling paint bears a plaque that states: “The first African-American major league baseball player lived here from 1947 to 1949.”
Local officials have started an effort to landmark the house.
“Heroes like Jackie Robinson come from East Flatbush and we need to treasure and preserve that history,” Council Member Jumaane Williams said Thursday. “Jackie had an impact on the lives of every member of this community through his bravery on and off the field. We must protect that legacy for future generations to learn from and appreciate.”
Meanwhile, Robinson’s daughter says she and her family are excited about the new movie, which opens Friday.
Sharon Robinson said the movie does a good job of highlighting the resistance and prejudice faced by her father, who died in 1972, and it could help people discuss the lack of equal opportunity.
“It is accurate,” Sharon Robinson told WFAN hosts Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts on Friday. “I’ve studied my father and the period quite a bit, and there were a couple of moments that I had to go back and check on, but it really is accurate. And it’s still dramatic. It doesn’t pause. It just moves so beautifully.”
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