Rapoport: He interviewed Jackie Robinson near the end

From Ron Rapoport at LA Observed on April 8, 2013:

“42,” Brian Helgeland’s earnest, by-the-numbers film account of Jackie Robinson breaking baseball’s color line, takes place a decade before the Dodgers left Brooklyn. Any chance that Robinson might have accompanied the team to Los Angeles ended when he was traded to the Giants in 1957, a year before the two teams moved west. Rather than accept the trade, Robinson promptly retired, and thus began a feud with Walter O’Malley, and with all of baseball, that lasted until his death in 1972.

Robinson never bothered to hide his antipathy toward the game he had done so much to change. He participated in very few of its ceremonial events over the years and refused to go to old timers games so often that teams stopped inviting him.

One notable exception occurred on June 4, 1972, when Robinson agreed to come to Dodger Stadium to have his number retired. He had resisted the idea for many years but finally Don Newcombe, his old friend and teammate who worked in the Dodgers’ community relations department, convinced him.


Though 1972 was the 25th anniversary of Robinson’s major-league debut, baseball took no official notice of the milestone–perhaps because he might have wanted nothing to do with it–and there was little public fuss over the fact that he was in town. I was covering the Dodgers for the Times then and recall no press conference nor did anyone connected with the team suggest Robinson might be available for an interview. He was staying at the Biltmore, I was told when I inquired. I could try to reach him there.

I asked the voice answering the phone if I could speak to Jackie Robinson and was startled to learn that I was doing so. Anybody can just call in off the street and talk to Jackie Robinson? I thought. Flustered, I asked if it might be possible to meet with him, if he might have just a moment when he was not too busy.

“Come on over now,” he said.

Read the full article here: http://www.laobserved.com/intell/2013/04/he_interviewed_jackie_robinson.php

Originally published: April 9, 2013. Last Updated: April 9, 2013.