FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 19, 2017
Happy 95th Birthday, Mrs. Rachel Robinson
VERO BEACH, Florida (July 19, 2017) - Today, Historic Dodgertown – Vero Beach, Florida congratulates Rachel Robinson on her milestone 95th birthday! Although her husband, Jackie, may be best known as “the first” African American to play Major League Baseball for the Dodgers in 1947, Rachel is also a pioneer and civil rights activist.
She was always by Jackie’s side during his good times and, more importantly, the difficult times when racial prejudice led to catcalls, relentless insults, white-only accommodations and even death threats. She bolstered his spirits, provided love and support while encouraging him to keep pushing forward, which he did with great pride and humility.
“We congratulate Rachel today and for providing more than 1,500 scholarships with $70 million in program assistance over the years at the Jackie Robinson Foundation” said Historic Dodgertown Chairman Peter O’Malley. “The Jackie Robinson Foundation has an almost 100 percent graduation rate, which is remarkable. We salute her leadership and the work of everyone involved at the Foundation.”
Rachel and Jackie attended UCLA, where they met in 1940 and started their relationship. They married in 1946. Jackie played 10 seasons for the Dodgers before retiring after his Hall of Fame career. In 1961, Rachel earned a master’s degree in psychiatric nursing from New York University and four years later became Director of Nursing for the Connecticut Mental Health Center and Assistant Professor of Nursing at Yale University, while raising their family.
Jackie’s presence on the Dodgertown base in 1948, the year it opened, meant that the Dodger Spring Training camp was the first Major League Baseball integrated site in the South. On March 31, 1948, Jackie played in the first major league game and hit a home run in his initial at-bat. He would return to Dodgertown each spring through 1956.
Following his playing days, he became a broadcaster for ABC Sports, which had a MLB Saturday Game of the Week. In March 1965, Robinson returned to Dodgertown – Vero Beach to do a mock broadcast from Holman Stadium. Rachel accompanied him on that trip.
Jackie passed away at age 53 in 1972. A year later, Rachel created the Jackie Robinson Foundation, a non-profit organization, whose “mission is to provide college scholarships and leadership training” and continue her husband’s support of civil rights causes. Her diligence and work on behalf of educational opportunities for the past 44 years continues to inspire African American students.
One of Rachel’s longtime goals was to open a Jackie Robinson Museum in New York City and groundbreaking for that took place last April. Earlier this year, Major League Baseball honored her with the “Pioneer Award” at the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation Awards Dinner in Beverly Hills. In 2009, she received the UCLA medal, the highest honor for a UCLA graduate. In 2007, she was the first recipient of the Baseball Commissioner Historic Achievement Award.
Former First Lady Michelle Obama said in Ken Burns’ 2016 documentary on the life of Jackie Robinson, “There’s nothing more important than family, than a real partnership. I think that’s sign of (Jackie’s) character, that he chose a woman that was his equal. I don’t think you would’ve had Jackie Robinson without Rachel.”
The group photo below was taken at Historic Dodgertown - Vero Beach, Florida, during the #EliteInvitational2017 camp, hosted by Major League Baseball, Major League Baseball Players Association and USA Baseball
Peter O’Malley and Rachel Robinson, April 16, 2015.
In March 1965, Jackie Robinson and his wife, Rachel, are welcomed back to Dodgertown, Vero Beach, Florida by Dodger President Walter O’Malley.
About Historic Dodgertown – Vero Beach, Florida
“A Florida Heritage Landmark”
World-famous Historic Dodgertown – Vero Beach, Florida is a multi-sport, 80-acre complex on Florida’s Treasure Coast managed by former Dodger owner Peter O’Malley in a partnership since 2012. O’Malley, whose family developed and expanded the site formerly known as “Dodgertown” for nearly 50 years, partnered with his sister Terry O’Malley Seidler and former Dodger star pitchers Chan Ho Park and Hideo Nomo.
On November 10, 2014, Historic Dodgertown was named a Florida Heritage Landmark for its unique historic significance extending beyond baseball, as the first completely integrated Spring Training site in the South. The “Baseball and Dodgertown” historical marker is located at the entrance to the conference center.
The home of Dodger Spring Trainings from 1948-2008, it was the starting place for six World Championships and 14 N.L. Pennant-winning teams. Numerous Baseball Hall of Fame players trained on these hallowed grounds, as well as 20 visits from professional teams in Asia.
The all-inclusive facility, owned by Indian River County, gives teams of all ages the unique opportunity to train, play, dine and stay together in on-site villas. Participants utilize one of 10 ½ playing fields (seven are Musco-lighted for night games), including a new cloverleaf of youth baseball/softball fields with concessions area and new multi-purpose field (110 by 130 yards) for football, soccer and lacrosse.
Other amenities include clubhouses, two full-sized weight rooms, dining room, Stadium Club lounge and a competition-size swimming pool. The home of 6,500-seat Holman Stadium, Historic Dodgertown – Vero Beach, Florida provides an all-encompassing experience for guests and is the ideal setting to build a championship team. It’s the perfect location for tournaments, camps, schools, business conferences and seminars.
Continuing its tradition since 1983, the Los Angeles Dodgers Adult Baseball Camp returned to Historic Dodgertown in November, 2014. Visit historicdodgertown.com for more information.
Ruth Ruiz, Historic Dodgertown – Vero Beach, Florida, (772) 257-8532