Sheryl Kahn: If you saw the movie 42 or just know what the number 42 means to baseball, then you will want to stop by Daytona Beach and pay tribute to one of the games greats.
This is Sheryl Kahn, reporting from the Jackie Robinson Ballpark in Daytona Beach. And of the thousands of ballparks in America, this is a very special one. It's dedicated to a legendary player who was one of the most important players in baseball as well as civil rights history.
In 1946, Robison was playing for the AAA Montreal Royals who were hosting their parent club the Brooklyn Dodgers. At that time, segregation laws prevented the game from being played in Jacksonville, home to the Dodgers Spring Training, and those in Jacksonville held steadfast to those laws.
Brady Ballard: The reason Jackie Robinson Ballpark is important and both historic, is because this was the site of the first integrated game that Jackie ever played in on March 17 of 1946. The time the Dodgers were here for spring training, he had been signed to a professional contract by Branch Rickey, and was in fact a member of the Montreal Royals who was the AAA affiliate to the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Sheryl Kahn: The refusal by Jacksonville eventually led the tam to host spring training in Daytona Beach in 1947, the year Robinson would break the color barrier in Major League Baseball. A timeline of Robinsons accomplishments on and off the field can be found on the exterior of the western wall of the Daytona Cubs clubhouse. The plaques touch on such subjects as his visit to Daytona Beach in 1946, his meeting with Dodgers GM Branch Rickey, and so much more.
The hall of famer was well known for his trademark steals of home plate; and visitors can not only learn more about how he did it, they can try for themselves on the base path which is part of the interactive museum.
Brady Ballard: Jackie Robinson Ballpark which was formerly known as City Island Ballpark before 1990, it's located literally on an island. It's an island that has grown in different ways over the years, but it originally was just a baseball field. It literally was surrounded by the intercoastal water, certainly the best seat in the house is really at the top of bleachers because you can see all these different elements; the intercoastal, the ocean in the distance, the hotels in the distance, and really I think our site lines are second to none.
Sheryl Kahn: Today, the ballpark is home to the Daytona Cubs and the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats, each experiencing a wealth of recent championship seasons; maybe a sign that the spirit of Jackie Robinson hovers quietly over this place.
This is Sheryl Kahn reporting from the Jackie Robinson Ballpark in Daytona Beach, Florida.