Wednesday, April 15, 2015

I've Changed My Mind About The Jackie Robinson Rotunda

When CitiField opened, many fans griped that the stadium did not have enough "Mets" to it. For sure, Mets imagery and even blue and orange were scant.  And a grand entrance dedicated to a man who had never even donned a Mets uniform led many fans to say that owner Fred Wilpon had built a shrine to the Brooklyn Dodgers, instead of the New York Mets.

Over time, CitiField has been "Metsified" - a Mets Hall of Fame was built, the outfield wall was painted blue, and murals were installed, among other things.  The stadium feels much more like the home of the Mets than it did in 2009. But the Jackie Robinson Rotunda lives on.

On Opening Day we entered through that very rotunda.  Usually I like to enter the stadium through the less-crowded Left Field Gate, the "Endy Chavez Rotunda," if you will, but for some reason we chose the main entrance on Opening Day.  I was paying too much attention to grabbing my magnetic schedule and figuring out which escalator to take to our seats to pay much attention to what was around me.  But my seven year old son took notice.  Half way up the escalator he asks me, "Dad, who is that guy in the picture where it says "COMMITMENT"?

"Oh!  That's Jackie Robinson!  He was the first black baseball player in the Major Leagues, and a really great baseball player."

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My son had heard of him.

I didn't give the moment another thought until we got home.  That night he grabbed a book about Jackie Robinson he'd received as a gift some time ago and hadn't bothered to read.  That night he wanted to read it at bedtime.  The story resonated.

That was when I realized the importance of the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, and why Fred Wilpon wanted it to be part of the Mets new home.  Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier 50 years ago, and his legacy will only live on with effort.  My family had a great time at the ballpark on Opening Day, getting to see the Mets win their first home game of 2015.  I had pulled my son out of first grade that day to attend Opening Day.  And even if his teacher isn't a baseball fan, we'll agree my son got an education to go along with the thrills of the afternoon.

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