Jackie Robinson cut a huge swath in major league baseball (MLB). His daughter, Sharon Robinson, was in Austin for the premiere of a film about her father on March 20. She told me that details about the highlights of her dad’s career as a color barrier breaker in MLB unfolded for her in unusual ways. I caught up with her at The Roaring Forks, a downtown restaurant in Austin, where she shared some interesting and lesser-known information and private details about her father.
From Someone Else’s Mouth/How The Story of Her Dad Unfolded
She spoke of an experience when she was 8 or 9 and attending a day camp in Stamford, CT. As she recalled it, they showed a film of the Jackie Robinson story to the campers. She indicated that, until that time, she had not heard about her dad’s early years. “My parents didn’t talk about it,” she stated.
On her daddy-daughter trips with him, she remembers that he would take her to his NYC office and leave her in the care of counter persons at the Chock Full O’Nuts Cafe. She described it as a coffee shop, similar to today’s Starbucks. It was there that she credits those older babysitters with describing her father to her and telling her how important he had been. “He was humble and didn’t talk about it much himself,” she stated.
Jack Robinson: Devoted Christian, Husband and Father had Christian Legacy
She said his mother (her grandmother) was very religious and reared him and his siblings in a Godly way, as had been the case when her own parents raised her. As Sharon Robinson explained it, her father and his siblings had to have jobs, stay in school and pray at night.
Regarding how her father continued devotional traditions, she recounted, “We prayed before our meals.” She also recalled her dad as a devoted, on-his-knees kind of praying man.
She said he was very devoted to her mother. For example, she said when he was away from home he made sure to send flowers, write, and call them every single day.
A habit of his that she described was his tradition of taking her and her brother on outings to New York City. She said he dedicated those visits to one or the other of them so they could have personal daddy time with him.
The Now-Retired Jersey Was Not Her Favorite of His Attire
A New York Times online article dated April 14, 2010 confirms that Robinson’s famous jersey number was retired in 1997. Other clothing details were disclosed by his daughter. “He had great ties,” she recalled. She said she liked him best in a suit and tie, and that he wore a lot of dark gray. She recalled that he always looked sharp.
She said he also played golf and enjoyed wearing his golf clothes. She also remembered that every Christmas season he bought new golf outfits at the wholesale market and would lay them out for her and her brother to view. As she explained it, he would ask each of them to pick out one of them to give to him as a gift. When he unwrapped those selected sets on Christmas, she said they always laughed as he made a big deal out of his “surprise.” She said that on the heels of that reaction he’d delight them further and say, “It’s just what I wanted.”
Keepers/Things She Can’t Part With
She said she can’t imagine parting with his MVP plate, his silver bat, and his bronze football cleats. (She reminded that he was a top shelf football player).
Engaging, personable and very articulate, she seemed to get a great deal of satisfaction reminiscing about her father. It was nearly midnight when we finished talking, and I was honored to be in her company and to be so well-received by her.
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