Following the death in 1999 of Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team captain Pee Wee Reese, Stan Isaacs of Newsday and Jack Newfield of the New York Post wrote several columns encouraging a fitting public permanent tribute. Ultimately, the monument incorporated pioneering black athlete Jackie Robinson, whose friendship with Reese on and off the field, represented increasing racial tolerance in America.
Jackie Robinson (1919-1972) is legendary for his role as the first black professional baseball player in the major leagues. He was born in Cairo, Georgia, in 1919 and raised in Pasadena, California. He attended the University of California at Los Angeles, where he became the first student to earn varsity letters in four sports: baseball, basketball, football and track. He played football for the Los Angeles Bulldogs, before serving in the army during World War II.