Two friends of the Foundation have offered a combined $40,000 reward for those responsible for defacing the Jackie Robinson-Pee Wee Reese statue outside of the Cyclone’s ballpark in Coney Island this week. JRF Board member and Jackie Robinson Museum Campaign chair Joe Plumeri and an anonymous donor each pledged $20,000 to the effort citing their outrage over this expression of bigotry and hatred.
The bronze and stone statue commemorates one of the most poignant moments in baseball history when Dodger shortstop Pee Wee Reese strode out onto Cincinnati’s Crosley Field and placed his hand on Jackie Robinson’s shoulder in a gesture of friendship, showing his support for Robinson who faced racist taunts during his rookie year in 1947.
Among the hate-filled messages written in black marker on the monument of Robinson and his Brooklyn Dodgers teammate Pee Wee Reese were: “Hile (sic) Hitler,” “Die N----r” and “F--k Jackie Robinson and all N------s.”
“I am saddened by this senseless act defacing the statue of my husband Jack and teammate Pee Wee Reese,” said JRF Founder Rachel Robinson . “Bias crimes like this have no place in our society today.”
“The irony is that we are coming off of such positive feedback from the Legendary Pictures’ movie “42,” in which writer-director Brian Helgeland so brilliantly depicted Jackie Robinson’s heroism and strength of character in the face of bigotry back in the 1940’s,” said JRF President and CEO Della Britton Baeza . “Now 60 years later, we are witnessing such clear, unadulterated, public displays of racism in our country. It’s deeply upsetting.”
The New York Daily News has announced that it also is offering a $10,000 reward and New York City Councilman David G. Greenfield, State Senator Eric Adams and community activist and City Council candidate Mark Treyger also have amassed $1,500 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for vandalizing the statue.
(pictured above:Jackie Robinson-Pee Wee Reese Statue at Cyclone Park)
READ JRF Chief Historian Dr. Yohuru Williams: "Defacing Jackie Robinson’s Statue Will not Erase his Legacy"