Baseball great Jackie Robinson's legacy honored

April 14, 2013 11:05:04 AM PDT
The movie "42," the story of Jackie Robinson, hits the big screen this weekend and the baseball great's legacy continues to inspire others.

"Just a different time and different place," said Michael Nerthling.

David McShane painted a mural near Broad and Lehigh streets to honor Robinson's legacy. It was unveiled back in 1997.

"Philadelphia was known as one of the worst cities in terms in how we treated Jackie Robinson back in the day," said McShane.

Robinson's legacy is very much tied to the Phillies.

Despite all the hostility from fans and the team, the late Hall of Fame pitcher Robin Roberts told many people that Robinson was actually the first to congratulate the team for beating the Dodgers and winning the 1950 National League pennant.

"After all that he went through, I just thought that showed a lot. That he just had so much character that he could do something like that," said Rob Holiday, Phillies' Director of Amateur Scouting.

Now the Phillies as well as other major league teams sponsor the RBI Program. The program aims to revive baseball in inner cities, giving kids of all backgrounds a chance to enjoy the game.

"I think it's been more of a lack of opportunity among African American kids than a lack of interest. That's why programs like the RBI program have really helped," said Holiday.

Today, nearly 8.000 boys and girls are playing baseball and softball all over the city.

"He was able to open the doors for others, not just black but other countries like Puerto Rico, Mexico and other baseball players as well to the play the game," said Nerthling.

Holiday hopes this new movie will inspire young people to play the game. It's an opportunity, in large part, to the courage of Jackie Robinson.