Dodgers enjoy 'inspiring' visit to Jackie Robinson Museum

September 1st, 2022

NEW YORK -- Dodgers manager Dave Roberts knew some of the sacrifices Jackie Robinson made in breaking the color barrier in baseball. Robinson paved the way to allow Roberts, the first African American manager in Dodgers history, to have a successful Major League career.

What maybe Roberts -- and the rest of the Dodgers -- didn’t fully understand was just how important standing up for social injustices and inequality was for Robinson. On Wednesday, that picture became a little more clear.

The Dodgers became the first professional team to get a full tour of the new Jackie Robinson Museum in New York City. The museum will be fully open to the public starting Monday.

“It was great,” Roberts said. “What’s great is he was a great baseball player [and a] great athlete, but Jackie’s passion was civil rights and equality and more so than baseball. It was more that baseball was just a vehicle for him to use his voice, which is pretty cool to see and actually pretty inspiring.”

Roberts was joined by most of his coaches and staff members. Players Mookie Betts, Will Smith, David Price and Alex Vesia were also present to enjoy their first look at the museum. Betts and Price were joined by their families, while Smith and Vesia were joined by their significant others.

The tour gave them a chance to watch an introductory five-minute video that highlighted some of Robinson’s sacrifices. There was also a message from Rachel Robinson, Jackie's widow, when the players walked into the building.

Earlier in the week, Commissioner Rob Manfred and his wife, Colleen, visited the museum. The Manfreds were joined by MLB chief baseball development officer Tony Reagins; senior vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion Billy Bean; vice president of social responsibility April Brown and members of the Black Professionals ERG. Like the Dodgers, the group received a special tour, led by Jackie Robinson Foundation president and CEO Della Britton Baeza.

“I hope this tribute to my beloved Jack ignites the humanitarian spirit in all of us,” Rachel said in the message. “Not only when we convene around sport, but in all of our interactions. May it spark dialogue that leads to better understanding ourselves, our shared experiences, and the plight of others.”

During the tour, the Dodgers were treated to a plethora of unique memorabilia from Robinson’s life and career. One wall was dedicated to some of the fan mail he received and sent out during his playing days, some of which was pleasant and some of which was not. That mail was just one of the things Robinson had to fight through as he became one of the most influential people in United States history.

There was also an entire wall highlighting Robinson’s life events in chronological order. It included some of his best moments on the baseball field, but it also showed his activity in business and civil rights.

“I forgot his brother Mac finished second to Jesse Owens in the ‘36 Olympics,” Roberts said. “I didn’t realize his business acumen after playing. I did know that he was stationed at Fort Bragg and served our country in the Army. So just kind of other little anecdotes.”

One of the museum’s most unique areas is a corner wall that features public figures talking about Robinson’s impact in American history. Some of the figures ranged from former Major Leaguer CC Sabathia to George W. Bush, the 43rd president of the United States.

It is a wall that is meant to start difficult discussions about race and equality. Those subjects are what Robinson was most passionate about, which the museum hopes to illustrate to its visitors.