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Widow of Jackie Robinson Inducted into Baseball Reliquary’s Shrine of the Eternals

 

Rachel Robinson, Jackie Robinson's widow, was
Rachel Robinson, Jackie Robinson’s widow, was inducted into the 16th class of electees. (Thinkstock)

Jackie Robinson’s widow Rachel was among three people inducted into the Baseball Reliquary’s Shrine of the Eternals in a ceremony today at the Pasadena Central Library. 

Joining Rachel Robinson in the 16th class of electees were the late Hall of Fame pitcher turned announcer Dizzy Dean and longtime major league player, coach and manager Don Zimmer, who died June 4 at the age of 83.

The ceremony began with the traditional ceremonial bell ringing in honor of the late Brooklyn Dodgers fan Hilda Chester who would ring a cowbell from the bleachers of Ebbets Field.

Also honored were Jerry Pritikin, who received the Hilda Award, which recognizes distinguished service to the game by a baseball fan, and Jerry Cohen, who received the Tony Salin Memorial Award, which recognizes individuals for their commitment to the preservation of baseball history.

Pritikin has been a Chicago Cubs fan since 1945, the most recent year they won a National League pennant, when he was 8 years old. He is known as The Bleacher Preacher” for his efforts to convert non-believers to the Cubs. The Hilda Award was established in memory of Chester.

Cohen founded Ebbets Field Flannels in 1988, which manufactures historically inspired athletic apparel. The award is named in memory of the late baseball historian and author.

The Pasadena-based Baseball Reliquary, founded in 1996, bills itself as a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to fostering an appreciation of American art and culture though the context of baseball history and exploring the sport’s unparalleled creative possibilities.

Rachel Robinson, who turned 92 on Saturday, met Jackie Robinson when they were students at UCLA in the early 1940s and they were married in 1946, one year before he broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier.

Brooklyn Dodgers President Branch Rickey described Rachel Robinson as her husband’s “tower to lean on.”

Rachel Robinson was the director of nursing for the Connecticut Mental Health Center and an assistant professor of nursing at Yale University. She founded the Jackie Robinson Foundation in 1973 which provides four-year college scholarships to disadvantaged students of color.

Rachel Robinson’s induction was accepted by Delano Robinson, the widow of Jackie Robinson’s brother Mack.

As a nurse (Rachel Robinson) has devoted her life to caring for others,” Albert Kilchesty, the Baseball Reliquary’s archivist and historian, said “She has been honored and celebrated in and out of baseball, and has always been gracious when being acknowledged for her husband’s courage and determination.

“But she is more than deserving of applause and recognition on her own merits.  I have never met her.  I have never spoken to her.  Yet I have more admiration and respect for her than nearly any other woman in public life.  She has never played the game — she is the game.”

Dean was a four-time 20-game winner who helped lead the St. Louis Cardinals to the 1934 World Series championship. His playing career was cut short as the result of breaking a toe in the 1937 All-Star Game, which led to him changing his pitching motion and injuring his arm.

Dean was an announcer on “Game of the Week” telecasts on ABC and CBS from 1953-65 and four major league teams.

Dean’s induction was accepted by his nephew, Sandy Dean.

Zimmer spent 66 years in professional baseball as a player, coach or manager, including 56 in the major leagues. He was an infielder with Dodger World Series-winning teams in Brooklyn (1955) and Los Angeles (1959).

Zimmer was a major league manager for 13 seasons with the San Diego Padres, Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers and Chicago Cubs. He was chosen as the National League’s Manager of the Year in 1989 for guiding the Cubs to the National League East Division championship.

Zimmer’s induction was accepted by his widow, Jean, known as Soot, his high school sweetheart who he married beside home plate at Dunn Field in Elmira, N.Y., on Aug. 16, 1951, when he was playing for the Elmira Pioneers, Brooklyn’s affiliate in the then-Class A Eastern League.

Dean topped the field of 50 candidates for election to the Shrine of the Eternals as he was named on 37 percent of the ballots returned by members of the Baseball Reliquary. Zimmer was second with 33 percent and Robinson third with 31 percent.

Runners-up included former major league outfielder Bo Jackson (29 percent), the late major league outfielder Glenn Burke, who revealed in a 1982 interview with Inside Sports magazine that he was gay (27 percent), and baseball card designer Sy Berger (26 percent).

The three candidates receiving the most votes are elected to the Shrine of the Eternals, which differs from the Hall of Fame in that statistical accomplishment is not the principal criterion for election.

Its criteria are distinctiveness of play (good or bad), the uniqueness of character and personality and the imprint the individual has made on the baseball landscape, according to the organization’s website.

Electees, both on and off the field, shall have been responsible for developing baseball through athletic and or business achievements, in terms or its larger cultural and sociological impact as mass entertainment and as an arena for the human imagination.

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