NEW YORK (WFAN) — Jackie Robinson’s widow, Rachel Robinson, stopped by the WFAN studios Thursday to talk about her Hall-of-Famer husband and his historic role in breaking baseball’s color barrier 66 years ago.
Major League Baseball, which universally retired Robinson’s No. 42 in 1997, held its annual celebration of Jackie on April 15. Robinson became the first black player in MLB history when he took the field on that date in 1947 for the Brooklyn Dodgers.
His story hit the big screen earlier this month. In the movie “42,” there’s a scene in which teammate Ralph Branca encourages Robinson to shower with the rest of the team.
“I think he knew he should be treated like everybody else. But this was an experiment, and this had a major goal. And he had to work toward that goal, and not lose sight of it by doing things that made him feel comfortable or made him react to what he was being challenged for,” Rachel Robinson told WFAN’s Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton. “So I don’t think it was that he didn’t feel up to it. I think he felt it was not in the service of the goal he was trying to achieve.”
“He wasn’t trying to achieve a chance to shower with the players,” she added. “He was trying to achieve a chance for equality in America.”
Rachel, 90 years young, said Jackie was aware of his legacy as a trailblazer.
“I think he knew that, because as time went on, the number of black fans in the stadiums was increasing,” she said. “They were very vocal and they would greet him afterwards, and he got a sense that he was making a difference.”
Rachel said the Jackie Robinson Museum capital campaign, under the leadership of chairman Joseph Plumeri, has raised $14 million of its $21-million goal — and she wants the museum to open in Manhattan “by next year.”
Around baseball season, perhaps?
“Nevermind baseball,” Robinson said. “This museum represents more than baseball, although baseball is certainly a part of it. But we want it to be inspiring, we want it to be, ‘Look at the decades that have passed,’ so (that) children and young people learn something about their history and about their history-makers.”
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