The Jackie Robinson Ballpark adds many memorable elements to any family vacation — the beautiful views of the Halifax River, the gentle breeze blowing off of the water and the friendly atmosphere filled with team spirit are just a few. But there’s one more element not to be overlooked at this ballpark: history.
It was 1946, and the Montreal Royals were in Florida to play in an exhibition against their parent club, the Brooklyn Dodgers. It was an era of heated racial debates and disagreements, and other Florida cities refused to let the games be played due to the segregation laws still in place at the time. But in Daytona Beach, fair ball was declared and Jackie Robinson played in the very first integrated Major League Baseball spring training game. In that starting position on first base, Robinson broke the so-called baseball color line. And although resistance existed long after that day, the event signaled the end of racial segregation in professional baseball.
A talented athlete on many counts Robinson was celebrated in his day for more than just baseball. In fact, he was University of California, Los Angeles’ first athlete to win varsity letters in four sports: baseball, basketball, football and track. Talk about a man of many talents!
He had an extraordinary 10-year stint in the MLB and has received many honors, including winning the inaugural MLB Rookie of the Year Award and being named the first African-American to be named the National League Most Valuable Player. He was even posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his contributions toward civil rights in the United States.
All of Robinson’s accolades and awards are significant, but none are as special to the Daytona Beach area as the ballpark, which was renamed to honor him in 1990.
The ballpark is home to the Daytona Tortugas, the area’s own baseball team and proud affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds.
Every year from April through September, the stands fill up with families making memories, friends enjoying a hot dog and die-hard baseball fans getting their fill of the sport. The stadium holds 4,200 people, and is the perfect place to enjoy America’s favorite pastime.
Relive Robinson’s legacy as you view the on-site statue of Robinson (on Orange Avenue outside the Ballpark) and explore the ballpark’s history museum. Group tours are available by appointment.
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