THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Flushing Meadows, New York) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release April 15, 1997
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AND MRS. RACHEL ROBINSON AT CEREMONY HONORING JACKIE ROBINSON
Shea Stadium Flushing Meadows, New York
9:39 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Ladies and gentlemen, Mrs. Robinson, members of the Robinson family: It is hard to believe that it was 50 years ago at Ebbitts Field that a 28-year-old rookie changed the face of baseball and the face of America forever. Jackie Robinson scored the go-ahead run that day, and we've all been trying to catch up ever since.
Today I think every American should say a special word of thanks to Jackie Robinson and to Branch Rickey and to the members of the Dodger team who made him one of their own and proved that America is a better, stronger, richer country when we all work together and give everyone a chance. (Applause.) And today I think we should remember that Jackie Robinson's legacy did not end with baseball, for afterward he spent the rest of his life trying to open other doors and keep them open for all kinds of people. He knew that education, not sports, was the key to success in life for nearly everyone. And he took that message to young people wherever he went.
I congratulate Rachel Robinson for continuing that mission through the work of the Jackie Robinson Foundation, which has given hundreds of young people a chance to build the life of their dreams. (Applause.)
I can't help thinking that if Jackie Robinson were here with us tonight he would say that we have done a lot of good in the last 50 years, but we can do better. We have achieved equality on the playing field, but we need to establish equality in the boardrooms of baseball and throughout corporate America. And we need to make sure -- (applause) -- that, even as we celebrate his brilliant successor, Tiger Woods' victory in the Masters -- (applause) -- we need even more of our young people from all walks of life to get their master's degrees and help to make more of their lives in this country. (Applause.)
And he would remind us -- look around this stadium tonight -- that as we sit side by side at baseball games, we must make sure that we walk out of these stadiums together. We must stand for something more magnificent even than a grand slam home run. We ought to have a grand slam society, a good society where all of us have a chance to work together for a better tomorrow for our children. Let that be the true legacy of Jackie Robinson's wonderful, remarkable career and life.
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Mrs. Rachel Robinson. (Applause.)
MRS. ROBINSON: Thank you. (Applause.)
Mr. President, on behalf of the Robinson Family, the Jackie Robinson Foundation, Major League Baseball and all of our constituents, we wish to express our deep appreciation to you tonight for your presence and for the leadership that you are giving to us in crucial aspects of this celebration.
This anniversary has given us an opportunity as a nation to celebrate together the triumphs of the past and the social progress that has occurred. It has also given us an opportunity to reassess the challenges of the present. It is my passionate hope that we can take this reawakened feeling of unity and use it as a driving force so that each of us can recommit to equality of opportunity for all Americans. (Applause.)
I believe that the greatest that we can pay to Jackie Robinson is to gain new support for a more equitable society. And in this heady environment of unity, it is my hope that we can carry this living legacy beyond this glorious moment. This is a great moment for all of us.
Thank you. (Applause.)
END 9:45 P.M. EDT