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Jackie Robinson's home in Brooklyn

This April 7, 2013 image shows a house in the Brooklyn borough of New York where baseball great Jackie Robinson once lived. A plaque on the door says: "The first African-American major league baseball player lived here from 1947 to 1949." A new movie, "42," tells Robinson's inspiring story as the man who integrated Major League Baseball. The house at 5224 Tilden Ave. in East Flatbush is one of a number of places in Brooklyn connected to Robinson. (AP Photo/Beth J. Harpaz)
April 11, 2013 2:34:09 PM PDT
The life and legacy of Jackie Robinson is back in the news thanks to a movie that takes its title from his number, 42.

So this would seem a good time to preserve the place he called home in East Flatbush.

Council member Jumaane Williams is leading the effort to get the city to recognize 5224 Tilden Avenue as a landmark and perhaps open it as a museum one day.

"It serves as a symbol of an era when brave Americans, both black and white, stood up against racial intolerance and bigotry which took place right here in Brooklyn," Williams said.

Today the house is owned by the niece of the woman who rented it to Jackie Robinson and his wife, Rachel.

"I remember they were very nice people: very, very nice, and I remember Jackie's smile. He had some smile," she said.

The place has lost a good deal of its luster since the Robinsons lived here for a couple of years in the late 1940's after he broke baseball's color line. A plaque pays tribute to "The 1st African-American Major-League Player" but neighborhood residents would like to see his old place fixed-up.

"He deserves something better than that," one resident said.

"When the wind blows, the awning keeps banging and banging. It needs to be fixed," said another. Robinson remains a hero here and his former residence is still a point of pride almost half a century after he last swung a bat in Brooklyn.

"It brings the neighborhood up. It makes the neighborhood better, and it's history, and that's one of the reasons it should be restored," Williams said.

Today, even in poor condition, the home still serves to reminds us of the truth of the words on Jackie Robinson's tombstone, which read: "A life is not important - except in the impact it has on other lives."

The legendary ballplayer is buried in Brooklyn's Cyprus Hill cemetery. The movie "42" opens on Friday. Much of the picture was made down south and his East Flatbush home is not featured, but moviegoers will get to see an earlier residence where he lived in Bed-Stuy.

CLICK HERE TO SEE PHOTOS OF JACKIE ROBINSON'S BROOKLYN


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