Jackie Robinson has earned another posthumous honor. California officials have named part of the 210 Freeway after the baseball great and civil rights pioneer. The section runs from Gould Avenue to Orange Grove Boulevard.
Although Robinson was born in Georgia, he spent his formative years in Pasadena near that stretch of freeway.
"We name highways after so many different individuals and it just dawned on us at some point this year that there was really nothing that the state had done for Jackie Robinson," Assemblyman Mike Gatto tells KPCC. Gatto authored the bill authorizing the name change.
Growing up in Southern California, he played four varsity sports — football, basketball, track and baseball — at John Muir High School. Later, he excelled at sports at Pasadena City College and UCLA. The rest is history.
In 1947, Robinson broke the baseball color line and became the first African-American player in the major leagues since 1880 when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers. He faced tension within his own clubhouse, as well as rough play and threats of a strike from opposing players.
He went on to a stellar career, playing in six World Series and winning the National League's MVP award in 1949.
Robinson's groundbreaking foray into baseball impacted efforts to desegregate other aspects of American life. But he suffered because of it.
"He knew that his conduct would be judged by the entire nation as they got used to the idea of desegregating sports and buses and diners. He lived under intense pressure, but just did everything with grace and never really broke his cool," Gatto says.
Gatto expects to host a ceremony for the newly renamed span of freeway, hopefully with signs up, in the fall.