Jackie Robinson's widow: 'There's room for real progress' in baseball

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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

PASADENA, Calif. -- Jackie Robinson's widow says Major League Baseball has yet to fully honor her husband's legacy.

"There is a lot more that needs to be done and that can be done in terms of the hiring, the promotion" of minorities in the sport, Rachel Robinson said Monday on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Robinson took part in a question-and-answer session at the Television Critics Association winter meeting and discussed "Jackie Robinson," a two-part PBS documentary airing in April.

Holding Jackie Robinson Day at ballparks and handing out T-shirts to honor his integration of baseball isn't enough, she said.

"We're talking about very few [black] coaches, very few managers ... so there's room for real progress, where people can come into the sport and feel they're going to be respected and given opportunities," Rachel Robinson said.

Filmmaker Ken Burns recalled that Jackie Robinson, in his final public appearance, said he would be even more proud if he glanced over toward third base and saw an African-American coach.

The ballplayer, who broke the sport's color barrier when he started for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, died in 1972 at age 53.

Rachel Robinson, 93, was asked to describe her emotional response to the film, which tells of her husband's achievements and their family life.

"I had to hide my tears," she said. With Jackie Robinson gone, people look to her to confirm accounts of what he did, how he felt and how the couple confronted discrimination. "It's a great responsibility to speak for someone else who cannot be there to speak for themselves."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.