There are young arms dangling from the dugout roof, trying to get the Dodgers star below to sign “Jackie Robinson” on their pieces of paper. The man who broke baseball’s color barrier in 1947 is sitting and smiling, pencil in hand.
This is the scene captured on a huge photo that greets those entering an exhibit entitled “In the Dugout with Jackie Robinson.” It opened Thursday night at the Museum of the City of New York on Fifth Avenue in East Harlem, and it came with a reception.
This would’ve been the 100th birthday for the Hall of Famer and American icon, who died in 1972 at the age of 53. The exhibit also features 32 black-and-white photos, magazine articles, memorabilia and a home-movie video.
“Oh my God, it’s so special,” said Sharon Robinson, Jackie’s daughter, who was on hand with her 96-year-old mom, Jackie’s widow, Rachel. “I loved the video . . . It’s incredible to see Dad and see the photographs; also to go back and see all of his articles he wrote.”
The day marked the beginning of a centennial celebration. It will be a year of special events across the country in honor of the former six-time All-Star. It will culminate in December with the opening of the Jackie Robinson Museum in lower Manhattan.
“This is a sort of perfect storm, if you will, because we’ve gotten lucky with the fact that this is the centennial of Jackie’s birth, the same year that we’ll open the museum,” said Della Britton Baeza, the president and CEO of the Jackie Robinson Foundation.
Some of the exhibit eventually will be at the Jackie Robinson Museum. The exhibit was a collaborative effort between the foundation and the Museum of the City of New York, which owned baseball- and family-oriented photos featuring Robinson from its Look magazine collection of New York-area assignments. A look through the archives spawned the idea.
“Once we kind of figured out, ‘Oh, his 100th birthday is coming up; it’s the perfect time to do it,’ we reached out to the Jackie Robinson Foundation and they readily agreed to be partners,” said Sean Corcoran, the museum’s curator of prints and photographs.
The exhibit runs through Sept. 15.
“I thought some of the photographs are outstanding,” said MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, another special guest. “I particularly liked the large one of Jackie when you first walk in. Really great. Really great.”