The National Baseball Hall of Fame intends to unveil a new plaque dedicated to the great Jackie Robinson this Saturday in its plaque gallery at the museum on Main Street in downtown Cooperstown, N.Y. His widow, Rachel, will be present for the 1:30 p.m. ET ceremony. The plaque will have updated language further honoring the career and legacy of the late Robinson, the first black player during the 20th century to cross Major League Baseball's color line for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947. Robinson was elected to the Hall by the Baseball Writers Association of America in 1962. The original plaque has been on the wall in the museum since then and was removed only once this past March 29 and taken to Memphis, where it was put on display for the second annual Civil Rights Game.
"When he earned election to the Hall of Fame in 1962, Jackie Robinson totaled a career worthy of inclusion based on performance alone," Jeff Idelson, the president of the Hall, said in a statement. "Now, 46 years later, his impact is not fully defined without mention of his extreme courage in breaking baseball's color barrier. The time is right to recognize his contribution to history, not only as a Hall of Fame player, but also as a civil rights pioneer." Robinson's coming has been heralded as a presage to the civil rights movement and those actions occurred years before the U.S. military or its public schools were integrated. Robinson was elected to the Hall in the same year as former Indians fireballer Bob Feller and, considering it a sign of the times, Feller received votes on 150 of 160 ballots cast (93.8 percent), while Robinson's name appeared on 124 of those ballots (77.5 percent). It wasn't until 1972 that the Dodgers retired Robinson's famous No. 42 and 1997 when Commissioner Bud Selig did so for perpetuity throughout baseball on the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Robinson's feat. Up until now, Robinson's plaque has read accordingly, making no mention of his sociological impact on the game: "Leading N.L. batter in 1949. Holds fielding mark for second baseman playing in 150 or more games at .992. Led N.L. in stolen bases in 1947 and 1949. Most Valuable Player in 1949. Lifetime batting average .311. Joint record holder for most double plays by second baseman, 137 in 1951. Led second basemen in double plays 1949-50-51-52." The new and updated language will be released on Saturday.
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.