04/15/2004 3:11 PM ET
Major League Baseball donates one million to "Take The Field"
Forest Hills High School Athletic Complex named in honor of Jackie Robinson
During a ceremony today at Forest Hills High School, Major League Baseball and Take the Field dedicated a $3.2 million outdoor athletic complex in honor of Jackie Robinson. During the event, Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig presented Take the Field co-founders Bob Tisch, Richard Kahan and Tony Kiser with a ceremonial check for one million dollars. The check presentation acknowledges Major League Baseball's contribution to the construction of "Jackie Robinson Field" as well as other Take the Field projects in New York City.
The ceremony coincided with the first Jackie Robinson Day in Major League Baseball. In March, Commissioner Selig announced that beginning this season, every team playing at home on April 15 would honor the legacy of Jackie Robinson with a special celebration. This year, 13 clubs are hosting ceremonies, with the national celebration at Shea Stadium, home of the New York Mets.
"Major League Baseball is pleased to support the efforts of Take the Field to help promote baseball throughout New York City's five boroughs," said Commissioner Selig. "Jackie Robinson's entry into Major League Baseball on April 14, 1947 was baseball's proudest moment and the game's most significant social statement. Jackie Robinson changed the social fabric of our country and it is only fitting that this facility, which will be used by generations of children to come, will be dedicated in his honor on the first annual Jackie Robinson Day."
Participants in the field dedication ceremony included Commissioner Selig; Sharon Robinson, daughter of Jackie and Rachel Robinson and Consultant, Educational Programming for Major League Baseball; Fred Wilpon, owner, New York Mets; Take the Field co-founders Bob Tisch, Richard Kahan, and Tony Kiser; Helen Marshall, Queens Borough President; Mets players Tom Glavine and Mike Cameron; and Forest Hills High School faculty, students and staff.
"By joining us in building this magnificent new facility, Major League Baseball has hit a grand slam on behalf of the students of Forest Hills High School," said Bob Tisch, Take the Field's Chairman and co-founder. "Being a Brooklynite, I had the privilege of seeing Jackie Robinson play for the Dodgers. More than his greatness on the field was his profound impact off of it. He transcended the game to become a standard bearer of all that America represents, and for this reason, we at Take the Field are especially proud that this facility will bear his name in perpetuity. My gratitude goes to Commissioner Selig and everyone at Major League Baseball for helping make this happen."
The Jackie Robinson Field athletic facility includes designated areas for regulation baseball and softball fields, a state-of-the-art artificial turf field for football and soccer, a rubberized six-lane running track with areas for field events, 10 handball courts, four tennis courts and bleachers.
"We appreciate the efforts that Take the Field, Major League Baseball, and Borough President Marshall have made in providing our students with an athletic complex of this magnitude," said Stephen J. Frey, Forest Hills High School Principal. "We are especially proud our new facilities are being named for Jackie Robinson, whose commitment to excellence, as well as willingness to persevere and ability to succeed in the face of tremendous obstacles are qualities we strive to instill in our students."
The facility is one of the largest in Take the Field's $125 million-plus public-private partnership, established in 2000 to rebuild 45 long-neglected public high school athletic fields throughout New York City's five boroughs. Since its inception, Take the Field has rebuilt 37 fields with another three to be completed by the fall. Some 100,000 public high school students, as well as countless neighborhood residents in the five boroughs are benefiting from the organization's efforts.