Rachel Robinson and Chadwick Boseman at the Los Angeles premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ 42, on Tuesday, April, 9th, 2013 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Eric Charbonneau/Invision for Warner Bros./AP Images)
Jackie Robinson’s widow Rachel was among three people inducted into the Baseball Reliquary’s Shrine of the Eternals in a ceremony July 21 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.”