Thursday, January 7, 2010

Mystery History -- Solved

Karin wins with her Tuesday 9:42 a.m. guess "Jackie Robinson's mother reading about his induction into the baseball hall of fame, 1962."

In the photo above, printed in the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner in 1962, Mallie Robinson sits in her Pasadena home at 133 Pepper St. and reads the news that her son will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The photo, dated Jan. 25 of that year, was taken by Herald-Examiner photographer Terry Sullivan. The photo in the newspaper had this caption:

Mrs. Mallie Robinson, Jackie's 72-year-old mother, reads story of son's Hall of Fame election in Pasadena home. "I knew he'd make it," she said.
Born Jan. 31, 1919, in Georgia and raised in Pasadena, Jack Roosevelt "Jackie" Robinson was a graduate of Washington Junior High School, Muir Tech and Pasadena Junior College. He left UCLA just a few credits short of graduating and joined the U.S. Army.

After her sharecropper husband abandoned the family, Mallie Robinson packed up her five children (Jackie was 16 months old) in 1920 and boarded a train from Georgia to Los Angeles. She rented an apartment in Pasadena and later they moved in with a family on Glorieta Street. After she found steady work as a domestic worker, Mallie bought the house on Pepper Street in 1923. The Robinsons were the first African American family on that street. The home was demolished in the early 1970s; a plaque in the sidewalk marks the site.

Mallie is seated below with her children -- left to right -- Mack, Jackie, Edgar, Willa Mae and Frank.

And here's Jackie (left) as a teenager, playing ball in front of the house on Pepper Street.

Jackie (center) visited home in Pasadena with Mack and Mallie in 1947.

In his autobiography, he wrote:

Several days before the winners were announced, before leaving for my office at Chock Full O'Nuts, as I kissed Rachel good-bye, she told me to "be very careful what you say today."

Rachel has almost always agreed with my basic intentions when I sounded off. I could tell she was concerned that I might unnecessarily say something which would hurt my chances of being chosen.

On the evening of Tuesday, January 23, I learned that the baseball writers had given me 124 out of 160 ballots cast. Appropriately, I was with Rachel in Stamford when the word came.

The phones began ringing. The newsmen and cameramen began arriving. Everybody wanted to hear my reaction. Truthfully, after having steeled myself to be passed over and not to let it hurt me a lot, I was almost inarticulate.

Branch Rickey (left) joins Jackie, Jackie's wife Rachel and his mother Mallie after the induction ceremony in Cooperstown, New York.

Jackie passed away at the age of 53 -- too young -- on Oct. 24, 1972, at his home in Stamford, Connecticut.

Rachel Robinson keeps her husband's legacy alive through her work with the Jackie Robinson Foundation in New York City, which she founded.

Pasadena has paid tribute to Jackie Robinson and his family in many ways: a community center, post office, stadium, ball field and more bear the Robinson name.

Please allow me to correct one mistake many people make: Robinson Park in Pasadena was named in honor of the entire family, including Jackie, Mack, the other siblings and Mallie. There is no such thing as Jackie Robinson Park in this city.

The Robinson Memorial, created by artists Ralph Helmick, Stu Schecter and John Outterbridge across the street from City Hall, is a wonderful installation that honors Jackie and Mack. When you visit, be sure to go around to the back side to see the symbols and inscriptions on the backs of the heads.

I'll have more about Mack and the other siblings another time.

Many thanks to the Jackie Robinson Foundation, the Robinson family and the National Baseball Library for use of some of the photos.


Diana said...

Fascinating, Ann -- thanks so much for the back story on this photo and the Robinson family!

Michael Coppess said...

A post worthy of the Hall of Fame.

Petrea said...

Wonderful as always. A well-told story. Way to go, Karin!

I'm sad that the house on Pepper Street is gone. I feel that way about all the houses on Pepper that were lost in the 70's, but there's so much about that project that I don't know.

altadenahiker said...

I'm still in awe of the mom.

Bellis said...

By an amazing coincidence, I sat next to Buzzie Bavasi's grandson (and Bill Bavasi's son) on the flight home from London. He's a delightful young man who's chosen basketball rather than baseball.