Baseball: Robinson honored with new plaque
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. ó It was simply time for the Hall of Fame to recognize Jackie Robinson’s real mark on baseball.
Nearly a half-century after he was inducted into the Hall, the late Brooklyn Dodgers great received a rare honor Wednesday ó a new plaque that pays tribute to the cultural impact he had on the game and the country as the first black player in the major leagues.
“A very important part of Jack’s life has been acknowledged today in a more total way,” Robinson’s 86-year-old wife, Rachel, said at a brief unveiling ceremony in the Hall of Fame Gallery.
“As he said nearly 46 years ago, those of us who are fortunate to receive such an honor must use it to help others. That was a great theme in his life,” he said.
The new plaque adds “Jackie” under his full name, Jack Roosevelt Robinson, and the inscription is more detailed than the original: “A player of extraordinary ability renowned for his electrifying style of play. Over 10 seasons hit .311, scored more than 100 runs six times, named to six All-Star teams and led Brooklyn to six pennants and its only World Series title, in 1955. The 1947 Rookie of the Year, and the 1949 N.L. MVP when he hit a league-best .342 with 37 steals. Led second basemen in double plays four times and stole home 19 times.”
The final sentence is a fitting epitaph for Robinson, who died in 1972 at age 53: “Displayed tremendous courage and poise in 1947 when he integrated the modern major leagues in the face of intense adversity.”
“As young people view Jack’s new Hall of Fame plaque, they will look beyond statistics and embrace all that Jack has meant and all that they can be,” said Rachel Robinson, flanked by daughter Sharon and nearly 200 fans. “We want it to be an inspiration, not something to take pictures of. We wanted to give them a sense of direction.”
On Robinson’s original plaque, unveiled at his induction in 1962, there was no mention that he broke baseball’s color barrier, only a listing of his achievements on the field. That was by design.
“He told baseball writers that when considering his candidacy, they should only consider his playing ability ó what his impact was on the playing field,” Hall of Fame Chairman Jane Forbes Clark said.
The Hall of Fame has adjusted plaques over the years because of factual errors, but very rarely for subjective reasons, Clark said.