Jackie Robinson was one of those rare athletes who towered over their particular game, and sports in general. He became a truly larger-than-life figure not only because of his exemplary baseball skills, but because he was the first black player to play in the major leagues. Robinson opened the door for countless other athletes of color, and effectively started the drive to desegregate American sports in general—a colossal achievement that Robinson seemed to pull off gracefully and effortlessly, despite facing unbelievably hostile opposition along the way.
As a way of paying tribute to Jackie Robinson, Brooklyn Brewery is helping to honor this hometown hero, as well as the memory of a legendary sports franchise. And the brewery has put its money where its heart is, by donating $50,000 toward the creation of a bronze monument located at the Brooklyn Cyclone Keyspan Park in Coney Island, site of the Mets’ minor league field.
The sculpture depicts a stirring moment from 1947 when Robinson was being taunted by bigoted baseball fans at a game in Cincinnati. White teammate Pee Wee Reese publicly put his arm around Robinson, to show his solidarity with the trailblazing ballplayer. Touching in its simplicity, the monument depicts a humane gesture that occurred during a moment of painful and powerful social change.
The monument had been proposed by former Mayor Rudy Giuliani and was completed under the auspices of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who personally donated to the project (as did Major League Baseball, and the Yankees and Mets organizations).
The Brooklyn Brewery came on-board with a commitment to donate $1 to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City for each case of Brooklyn Pennant Ale ’55 sold during 2005. That year marked the 50th anniversary of the Brooklyn Dodgers charmed 1955 season, which culminated with the team’s one World Series title. Pennant Ale (with a baseball actually shown in its logo) is the brewery’s tribute in beer to the memory of the Brooklyn Dodgers. One of the most beloved teams in all of sports history, the Dodgers’ 1959 relocation to Los Angeles still provokes howls of rage and heartbreak throughout the borough.