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Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Jackie Robinson Rotunda dedicated


Posted by ESPN's Claire Smith

NEW YORK -- The Jackie Robinson Rotunda, named for the Brooklyn Dodgers' Hall of Fame second baseman who broke baseball's color barrier 62 years ago today, was dedicated during an emotional ceremony at the New York Mets' newly opened Citi Field.

"I am speechless," Rachel Robinson, widow of the late Dodgers great, said to an audience gathered in the Ebbets Field-inspired structure that serves as the entry way at the ballpark in Queens. "I am so excited and so thrilled about being in this rotunda, to celebrate its opening, and to celebrate my husband."

Rachel Robinson, joined by Mets owner Fred Wilpon and a host of public figures, including New York Gov. David Paterson and U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, stood on a podium beneath a facade on which one of Jackie Robinson's most famous credos was chiseled: "Integrity: A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives."

It is one of many Jackie Robinson quotes on display in Citi Field, designed to remind fans of Robinson's contributions to baseball and the civil rights movement.

"You just have to remember the times," said Schumer. "The first man to break through was Jack Roosevelt Robinson."

Schumer added that Robinson's ability to endure and succeed in integrating baseball was due to his quiet dignity and strength.

What especially pleased Rachel Robinson was that unlike so many prior salutes to her late husband, what stands on display at Citi Field is anything but temporary.

"This is not an exhibit," she said. "This is here to stay. I love the permanence of it."

Claire Smith is a news editor at ESPN. She covered baseball for 27 years at the Hartford Courant, the New York Times and the Philadelphia Inquirer.