Jackie Robinson Awarded Gold Medal

Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson, the Brooklyn Dodger who in 1947 became major League Baseball's first African American player and a pioneer in the civil rights movement, was recognized posthumously with the Congressional Gold Medal today during ceremonies in the rotunda of the United States Capital building in Washington, D.C. President George W. Bush made the presentation to Robinson's wife Rachel, daughter Sharon and grandson David.

Representing the Dodgers was Owner and Chairman Frank Court, Vice Chairman Jamie Court and Special Advisor to the Chairman Tommy Lasorda, a teammate of Robinson's in Brooklyn.

"Jackie Robinson exemplified the utmost courage, determination, character and competitiveness His impact on the game was legendary, and his gift to the nation is priceless," Jamie Court said. "It is fitting that we add Jackie to this illustrious list of groundbreaking Americans who served causes greater than themselves. Jackie brought special strength to the Dodger organization, on and off the field. It is a proud day to see one of the Dodgers' finest being honored as one of America's finest."

Robinson, who played for the Dodgers from 1947-56. is just the second baseball player and fourth athlete to receive to prestigious honor, joining Hall of Famer big leaguer Roberto Clemente (1973), heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis (1982) and Olympic track and field star Jesse Owens (1988).

Since the American Revolution, the United States Congress has commissioned gold medals as its highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions. Each medal honors a particular individual, institution, or event. Although the first recipients included citizens who participated in the American Revolution, the War of 1812 and the Mexican War, Congress broadened the scope of the medal to including actors, authors, entertainers, musicians, pioneers in aeronautical and space, explorers, lifesavers, notables in science and medicine, athletes, humanitarians, public servants, and foreign recipients.

"Jackie's is an amazing story," said Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig "This kid of recognition outside of baseball is long overdue."

In 1997 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Robinson's historic entrance into Major League Baseball, his uniform No. 42 was retired throughout the big leagues. Robinson, a member of six pennant-winning Dodger teams, including the 1955 World Championship club, passed away at age 53 in October 1972. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.