Jackie Robinson Project at UMass Amherst to Feature Widow Rachel Robinson, Baseball Notables

AMHERST, Mass. - An April 29 visit by Rachel Robinson, widow of the man who 50 years ago broke the color barrier in baseball’s major leagues, highlights the roster of prominent baseball figures who will visit the University of Massachusetts during the next few months. They will come to campus as part of the Jackie Robinson Initiative, a year-long interdisciplinary program commemorating Robinson’s accomplishment as a turning point in not only America’s favorite pastime, but in American society as well.

Leading off the semester will be Joe Black, former teammate and roommate of Robinson, who will deliver a keynote address titled "Jackie Robinson’s Legacy to Baseball and America," Thurs. Jan. 30 at 7:30 p.m. in the Campus Center Auditorium. That talk is open to the public at no charge.as a turning point in not only America’s favorite pastime, but in American society as well.

Other visitors will meet with students enrolled in the Robinson project’s second semester course "Baseball and Contemporary America."as a turning point in not only America’s favorite pastime, but in American society as well.

"This is an all-star lineup for the spring," says political science professor Jerome Mileur, one of the principal faculty members involved in the Robinson project. "It’s a real testimony to the significance of Jackie Robinson’s achievements that they have agreed to participate in our program."as a turning point in not only America’s favorite pastime, but in American society as well.

Former National League president and New York Yankees broadcaster Bill White will be on campus Feb. 11. A 13-year veteran of the majors, first baseman White had a lifetime batting average of .286, with more than 200 home runs and almost 900 RBIs. White played in the 1964 World Series for the St. Louis Cardinals.as a turning point in not only America’s favorite pastime, but in American society as well.

On Feb. 25, two former players will visit: Chuck Tanner and Al Oliver. Tanner, an outfielder for eight big league seasons and a teammate of Hank Aaron in Milwaukee, also managed several major league teams, including the "We Are Family" Pittsburgh Pirates of the 1970s. Tanner will be joined by Al Oliver, who played 18 years in the majors, 10 of them with the Pittsburgh Pirates, compiling a .303 career batting average, 219 home runs, and 1,326 RBIs. Oliver was also in the first all-black starting lineup in the majors; that was in 1970 for the Pirates.as a turning point in not only America’s favorite pastime, but in American society as well.

Hall of Fame pitcher Robin Roberts will be on campus March 4. Winner of 286 games in a 19-year career, most of it spent with the Philadelphia Phillies, Roberts had a lifetime ERA of 3.41, with 2,357 strikeouts. He was also a leader in transforming the Major League Players Association into a powerful union as a turning point in not only America’s favorite pastime, but in American society as well.

Orlando Cepeda, who starred at first base for San Francisco, St. Louis, and Atlanta, before playing a year with the Boston Red Sox in 1973, will visit UMass March 25. A lifetime .297 hitter, Cepeda had 379 home runs and 1,365 RBIs, while playing in three World Series during his 17-year big league career. Born in Puerto Rico, "Cha-Cha," as he was affectionately known, represents the great number of Latin-American players who came to the majors after Robinson.as a turning point in not only America’s favorite pastime, but in American society as well.

Basketball All-American at Notre Dame and longtime NBA star Tommy Hawkins will meet with students April 29. A vice president with the Los Angeles Dodgers for over a decade, Hawkins is responsible for community relations for the Dodgers and is in charge of all the team’s activities this year commemorating the Robinson anniversary.as a turning point in not only America’s favorite pastime, but in American society as well.

A number of others will also visit the campus during the semester, including historians Arnold Rampersad of Princeton University and Jules Tygiel of San Francisco State University, both Robinson biographers; John Vernon of the National Archives; Larry Whiteside of the Boston Globe; and David Osinski, director of the International Baseball Foundation.