For Jackie Robinson’s Centennial, a Display of Rarely Seen Photographs




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[George Vecsey: How Jackie Robinson Changed the Game]

Robinson wasn’t the first black participant throughout the historic previous of Major League Baseball. That distinction belongs to Moses Fleetwood Walker, a catcher for the Toledo Blue Stockings throughout the American Association in 1884. He solely carried out one season as a end result of of an hurt and shortly after, black players have been banned. But Robinson’s legacy is unmatched: He not solely impressed generations of Americans to pursue baseball however moreover helped black soccer and basketball players obtain acceptance of their leagues whereas devoting himself to the civil rights movement sooner than his loss of life on the age of 53 in 1972.

Robinson’s specific relationship with Look journal is evident throughout the current. He wrote three articles in 1955, along with one generally known as “Now I Know Why They Boo Me.” Robinson moreover launched his retirement by means of Look, as a substitute of at a data conference, an unusual switch on the time. The journal donated its New York archives to the museum throughout the 1950s, and for years the negatives and make contact with prints have been buried in its basement. Over the ultimate 12 months, Sean Corcoran and Susan Gail Johnson, the exhibition’s curators, combed by means of heaps of of negatives sooner than lastly selecting people who will probably be on view for this small however extremely efficient current.


Robinson is seen at home collectively along with his partner, Rachel Robinson, and his son, Jackie Jr. Many of these stills are from 1949, two years after he had entered the important thing leagues. Another reveals Robinson typing, a signal of how a lot Robinson wished to be in value of his private story. The Robinsons married in 1946, merely sooner than spring teaching in Florida, and that exact same 12 months, Rachel gave supply to Jackie Robinson Jr. He later died in a automotive crash in 1971 at 24.

“It was important to show him as a human being more than just this towering figure in baseball history,” Mr. Corcoran talked about. “To ground him as a human being with a personal story.”


The exhibition moreover reveals Robinson late in his occupation, in 1953, seemingly having optimistic interactions collectively along with his teammates, along with some with Robinson shirtless, which could not have been revealed on the time. In one of the shirtless pictures, Robinson is seen talking to a white teammate throughout the clubhouse. Museum officers think about he is Carl Furillo, an all-star correct fielder.

“His guard is down. This is a completely intimate moment,” Mr. Corcoran talked about in an interview. “You don’t know what they’re saying, but they’re having some sort of serious but open discussion with each other.”

These pictures current Robinson perhaps a bit additional relaxed than he was as a rookie, partially as a end result of at this degree, he had confirmed himself to be one of one of the very best players throughout the league, which resulted in him being additional accepted throughout the locker room.


Robinson was an distinctive participant. But with that bought right here resentment from opposing teams. Opposing pitchers often threw at his physique. (He was hit 72 situations in his occupation.) In his second full 12 months, he led the National League in hit-by-pitches with seven. In seven of his 10 seasons, he was among the many many excessive 5 players hit by opposing pitchers.

Robinson was moreover a speedster. He led the National League twice in stolen bases — and really stole home 19 situations, which proper now will be unheard-of.


In the Dugout With Jackie Robinson

Through Sept. 15 on the Museum of the City of New York, 1220 Fifth Avenue, Manhattan; 212-534-1672, mcny.org.

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