Thursday, December 2, 2010

Reliquary

Over at the Jackie Robinson Center they've got this very cool display about the Negro Baseball Leagues. The display was put together by the Baseball Reliquary which, if I understand correctly, is all about fostering an appreciation of arts and culture "through the context of baseball history." Not the other way around. When you stop by the Center you'll find this display case in the main lobby. Be sure and check out all the details.

Pasadena favorite son Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier by being the first African American to play baseball in the major leagues. But Jackie wasn't the first black athlete to play among whites in American baseball leagues. Before 1890, blacks and whites played baseball together more often than you might think. It wasn't until around 1890 that the minor league circuits began to bar black players.

The Negro National League wasn't official until 1920, but African American players had already formed leagues by the early 1900s and those leagues were going strong. They kept going for a long time. Jackie Robinson played for the Kansas City Monarchs as late as 1945.

Jackie joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 and played for them until 1956. He was elected to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.

Giant busts (big, big busts!) of Jackie and his Olympic star brother Mack sit across from City Hall in Pasadena. When you check them out, be sure and look for the details.

31 comments:

Mister Earl said...

Nice. I recently learned about the Baseball Reliquary because they distributed a video that someone made about the "earthquake game" at Candlestick Park in San Francisco during the 1989 World Series. I happened to be at that game, and wanted a copy of the video, which pretty well captures the mood of that afternoon. The Reliquary recently put on a day commemorating Jim Bouton's groundbreaking "Ball Four" at the Burbank Library, which included Bouton himself. It's run by a fellow who lives just east of Pasadena.

Jack said...

I learn something every day. I knew that Jackie Robinson played for UCLA but I assumed he was a New York kid who went west to play baseball. Didn't know he was from Pasadena. I wonder what I will learn tomorrow.

Joanne said...

I like the idea of fostering an appreciation of the arts and culture through the context of baseball history. What a great combination. And isn't a perfectly played baseball game on a hot summer afternoon an artform in itself?

Jean Spitzer said...

I learned about Robinson's local status by hanging out at PCC.

Cool photo of interesting place.

Petrea said...

My brother was at that game, too, Earl. Can I get the video at the Reliquary website?

Yep, Jack, he grew up here and went to PCC when it was Pasadena Junior College.

Joanne, the combination works. Google "Jackie Robinson mural" and you'll find the most wonderful painting on the side of a building in Philadelphia. (I was looking for a mural that's in our Robinson Center. Couldn't find the name of the artist.)

Jean, I imagine they have Robinson display cases there. When a local kid makes good, everyone he touched loves to claim him.

Steven said...

Jackie Robinson was not only a great baseball player he was a great man. Maybe only MLK did more to advance race relations in the US. It was no accident that Branch Rickey of the Dodgers chose Jackie to break the color barrier in baseball. Jackie had the mental toughness to never show anger when he was insulted by fans and even his own teammates. Jackie let his bat and his glove do the talking for him. You will not find a more talented player or a better man than Jackie Robinson.

Petrea said...

I agree, Steven. He knew what he was in for and it must have been painful. But he had a mission and he understood its magnitude. He was just the man to do it.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

I read his autobiography several years back. He and Mack grew up on Pepper street although I think they originally came out here from Georgia.
My favorite Robinson story is one related by the baseball fan/comedian Billy Crystal. He was crossing sixth ave in New York City when he heard a familiar sounding voice ask "excuse me but could you help me cross the street?." Can you imagine turning around and finding your hero? Robinson was very ill at that point in his life and near blind from the effects of diabetes, but still

ben wideman said...

PA, there is a marking on the sidewalk on Pepper Street where he grew up.

The Baseball Reliquary is AMAZING! Any local baseball fan should be a member.

TheChieftess said...

The Fremont Theater in SoPasadena has featured a wonderful play about Jackie Robinson...for all you locals, keep an eye open for this to play again!!!

But don't wait for the Jackie Robinson play to come again before going to the Fremont for an evening of culture!!! It's a delightful theater experience, provided by Lisa and James Reynolds...

Bellis said...

Thanks for the information about Pepper Street, Ben. I'll go take a look. A lot of things are named after the Robinson brothers in Pasadena. It can confuse newcomers - there are two Jackie Robinson sports fields with slightly different names in different areas, for example. The main Post Office on Lincoln is named after the equally great Mack.

Petrea said...

Oh, I must get over to Pepper street and take a look. There were once lovely old houses there but they were torn down to build the housing that's there now. There's a lot of info in the old files at the library about it; it was controversial. "The Pepper Project."

And yes, must get to the Fremont Center Theater! They always get good reviews.

Margaret said...

The giant heads used to freak my kids out, but I like them. I didn't know about this exhibit. Sounds great.

Virginia said...

I knew Earl would groove on this post. Good one Petrea!

Petrea said...

Those heads are REALLY big. Margaret, I was with your girls until I realized there was more to them than the faces.

Thanks, V!

Ms M said...

Kansas City has the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. Part of it features a life- sized baseball diamond with life-sized bronze statues of famous players on each base, pitcher's mound and home plate.
http://www.nlbm.com/s/index.cfm

pasadenapio said...

We lovingly call the Robinson Memorial across from Pasadena City Hall "the heads."

As Petrea mentioned, be sure to look for the details! And that includes walking around to the back side of the bronze sculptures and taking a closer look.

The memorial was dedicated in November 1997 during a huge community celebration that was attended by Mrs. Jackie Robinson and Mrs. Mack Robinson, dozens of members of the Robinson family and hundreds of people from the community.

pasadenapio said...

I should add that Mack Robinson was alive then but too ill to attend the celebration.

Katie said...

Great post! I can't wait to check out your links and really catch up on my baseball history. I had no idea Jackie Robinson was from Pasadena. Wow Mr. Earl - you were at the earthquake game. Were you rooting for the Giants or the As? I read Ball Four and thought it was a great baseball book.

Jon said...

Howdy. I am the guy that made the 1989 earthquake documentary, "5:04 p.m." Yes! The film is available and you can e-mail me if interested. jbgreek@earthlink.net. It was made for non-profit / educational purposes.

Cheers,

Jon

Mister Earl said...

Katie: Giants of course! The curse is over.

Jon: Cool that you showed up. I sent Petrea your information earlier today. How did you find your way here?

Petrea said...

Wow, I step away for an evening and all sorts of cool things are happening.

Thanks for the link, Ms. M, I like it.

And such great info, PIO. It's very sad that Mack couldn't attend the ceremony, though lovely that both Mrs. Robinsons were there.

Katie, were you at that game?

Welcome, Jon. Very smart, you must have a Google search going. I know I have a few! (It's like magic, Earl.)

Mister Earl said...

I figured. ;-)

Maybe the Earthquake Game is going to be like other famous games where there were 50,000 seats and years later 250,000 people claim they were there! ;-)

But I can prove it. I have my ticket stub, and I had it signed by sportscasters Bob Costas and Chris Berman before the game.

WV: bleget. Dag bleget!

Katie said...

Petrea I wasn't at the earthquake game as I was living in DC at the time, so I'm not one of Mr. Earl's 250,000. It would be interesting to see Jon's video though. Go Giants!

Petrea said...

I remember it very clearly because I watched TV and worried about my brother until I heard from him!

Jon said...

Hi all, I got referred to this blog by The Baseball Reliquary. Great stuff here! I hope to return for more goodies.

Mister Earl said...

Hey Jon, we haven't talked about the 2010 World Series!! Just got my second shipment of WS T-shirts! Love to walk around LA with my Giants swag! Our lives have been changed forever!! :-)

(PS - I believe Jon is also NorCal expatriate Giants fan living in the Southland.)

Petrea said...

You guys just go ahead and chat. I'm over here minding my own business. I won't listen.

Susan Campisi said...

What a wonderful post. I live and work in Pasadena, yet I'm oblivious to much of the city's history and cultural offerings. My dad grew up as a Brooklyn Dodgers fan (he still gets teary talking about "the shot heard 'round the world"). I'll have to take him to the Jackie Robinson Center when he visits.

tracie said...

As a big baseball fan and a huge Dodgers fan, I can't believe I haven't seen this exhibit yet. Will have to take the husband and son on a "Jackie Robinson" field trip to see this, the statues, and the Pepper Street plaque.

Petrea said...

I wonder if there's some sort of display at Pasadena City College as well. Jackie and Mack were both students there when it was Pasadena Junior College.