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Dodgers to honor Brooklyn’s greatest

LOS ANGELES (AP) – He was the first black man to play in the major leagues, ending six decades of racial segregation, and a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Fittingly, Jackie Robinson, photo below, is the first to be honored with a statue at Dodger Stadium. It will be unveiled Saturday on the 70th anniversary of his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Two years ago on Jackie Robinson Day, owner and chairman Mark Walter suggested a sculpture belonged at Dodger Stadium of the six-time All-Star second baseman who starred when the team was in Brooklyn.

“He just felt it was an idea whose time had come,’’ said Janet Marie Smith, the team’s senior vice president of planning and development.

The 77-inch (1.95m) tall bronze statue depicts Robinson as a rookie in 1947 stealing home, a nod to his aggressive baserunning. It stands in the left field reserve plaza, with sweeping views of downtown Los Angeles in one direction and Elysian Park in the other.

Smith said the location was chosen because it’s where the majority of fans enter the hillside ballpark that opened 55 years ago.

On the statue’s granite base are three of Robinson’s quotes as chosen by the family, including wife Rachel’s favorite: “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.’’

“Our goal was to both celebrate Jackie Robinson as an athlete and to acknowledge the important role he had in civil rights and social change in America,’’ Smith said.

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