Robinson's legacy a major part of Citi

Robinson's legacy a major part of Citi

NEW YORK -- Major League Baseball has chosen to anchor its Jackie Robinson Day festivities at Shea Stadium this year, and that's telling. Though the Dodgers will always call Robinson one of their own -- and all of baseball has a right to do the same -- the Mets consider themselves stewards, in a way, of Robinson's legacy. This was the Major League city that he first called home, and the Mets feel a responsibility to honor it.

"Remember," Mets COO Jeff Wilpon said. "Our blue and orange is from the Dodgers and the Giants. We understand our place in National League history."

That's why, when the Mets open their state-of-the-art Citi Field in Flushing in April 2009, Robinson will be a focal point of the new stadium. Every fan who steps off the subway will be greeted by the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, a meeting place styled after Brooklyn's old Ebbets Field. A cross between a baseball stadium and a miniature museum, the rotunda will feature a statue of Robinson in an effort to cement his legacy for years to come.

Now, with another Jackie Robinson Day on baseball's doorstep, the Mets are eager to show off their new little piece of history, which has taken shape all winter. Though fans aren't able to walk through the rotunda quite yet, the Mets will ensure that next April's stadium opening will come complete with all the pomp that Robinson deserves.

"It's a big focal point," Wilpon said. "It's the type of thing that you have to give it its due. That's what we're trying to make sure of -- that the man is recognized and people realize that they're walking through something that is special."

Entering the rotunda, fans will be greeted by the statue of Robinson in a Brooklyn Dodgers uniform, along with a carefully chosen inscription running along the top of a back wall: "A life is not important, except for the impact it has on other lives."

"Millions of people should go through the rotunda and think about that," Mets chairman Fred Wilpon said after the project was first announced. "Within the rotunda, we are going to tell the story of Jackie Robinson, not only as a great baseball player, but also as a great American."

Wilpon's players can appreciate their role in all that. They are part of a team that has taken a personal responsibility to not just remember, but further Robinson's legacy.

The Mets are indeed a shining example of what Robinson brought to baseball. With so many minority players on the roster, these Mets, especially, have Robinson to thank.

"It's something that no matter what race or religion or culture we come from, everybody is a Jackie Robinson fan," third baseman David Wright said. "Just being a fan of the game or a fan of Jackie Robinson, it's going to be special to call a place like that home and have that rotunda be a part of our home."

Now that Robinson's Dodgers are gone from the city, the Mets have taken their place -- both in the context of baseball and the context of history. The Jackie Robinson Rotunda is one small way in which they can turn that responsibility into an impact.

"It's obviously a big part of New York and a big part of New York's history," Jeff Wilpon said. "We wanted to make sure that he was properly recognized here."

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.