LARRY KING REMEMBERS JACKIE ROBINSON

March 21, 2018 at 5:15 am

Media legend Larry King joins us to remember Jackie Robinson. King, a Brooklyn native, was at Ebbets Field on the historic day in 1947 when the Dodgers rookie would forever change the baseball landscape. King shares what it was like to witness Robinson taking the field for the first time.

Aired on March 21, 2018. 

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>> TONIGHT P.B.S. REMEMBERS ONE
OF THE MOST ICONIC AND
INFLUENTIAL SPORTING STARS OF
THE CENTURY, JACKIE ROBINSON.
IT WAS IN THE SPRING OF 1947
WHEN JACKIE WALKED ON THE FIELD.
JUST DAYS BEFORE THAT GAME CAME
BUSINESS AND ROBINSON SIGNED HIS
FIRST PROFESSIONAL CONTRACT.
THAT CONTRACT IS VALUED AT A
WHOPPING $36 MILLION.
THE OWNER OF THAT CONTRACT IS
MICHAELA, THE FOUNDER AND CEO OF
THE COLLECTORS CAFE, A
TELEVISION SHOW TAKING A LOOK AT
HISTORIC COLLECTIBLES.
THAT SHOW IS HOSTED BY A MAN WHO
NEEDS NO INTRODUCTION, AND WAS
AT THE FIELD THAT FIRST DAY
JACKIE WALKED ON TO IT.
LARRY KING.
SO WHAT ARE THE TWO DIFFERENT
DOCUMENTS WE'RE TALKING ABOUT?
>> THE FIRST ONE IS THE FIRST
PROFESSIONAL CONTRACT WAS SIGNED
TO THE ROYALS, THAT WAS THE
DODGERS FARM TEAM.
AND JACKIE PLAYED THERE IN 1946.
>> UH-HUH.
>> WITH MONTREAL WORLD SERIES,
HE WAS THE MOST VALUABLE PLAYER,
HIS TEAMMATES CARRIED HIM OFF
THE FIELD WHAT KENTUCKY WHEN
THEY WON THEIR LAST GAME.
AND THE NEXT YEAR, HE SIGNED THE
DODGERS CONTRACT AND HE STARTED
WITH THE DODGERS IN 1947 WHEN I
SAW HIM PLAY.
HE WAS ROOKIE OF THE YEAR THAT
YEAR.
HE WAS THE FIRST ROOKIE OF THE
YEAR IN MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL.
>> IT WAS BECAUSE OF HIS
PERFORMANCE WITH THIS TEAM THAT
ACTUALLY LED HIM TO THE DODGERS?
>> HE HAD TO SHOW THEM SOMETHING
BY BEING WITH MONTREAL.
SO THAT'S THE MONTREAL CONTRACT.
>> AND WE ACTUALLY KNOW THEY
WERE HIS CONTRACT BECAUSE THIS
WAS HIS OFFICIAL SIGNATURE ON
THE CONTRACT.
HE SIGNED IT JACK R. ROBINSON.
BUT IF YOU HAD A MAGNIFYING
CLASS, HE IDENTIFIED IT AS HIS
COPY.
>> IT WAS THE SECOND ONE HE HAS
IS THE DODGER CONTRACT.
THAT'S THE MAJOR LEAGUE
CONTRACT.
>> YES, THAT'S THE ONE THAT
EVERYBODY TALKS ABOUT BREAKING
THE COLOR BARRIER.
HERE IT IS.
>> OH, MY GOD.
>> MISSING FOR 70 YEARS, FINALLY
UNEARTHED AND PRESENTED TO THE
AMERICAN PEOPLE.
AND AS WE WERE TALKING ABOUT
OFFCAMERA.
MANY HISTORIANS CONSIDER THESE
DOCUMENTS TO BE THE FOUNDING
DOCUMENTS OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS
MOVEMENT.
AND LARRY HAS A GREAT STORY
ABOUT MARTIN LUTHER KING.
>> WHEN I INTERVIEWED DR. KING,
I INTRODUCED HIM BY SAYING MY
GUEST IS THE FOUNDER OF THE
AMERICAN CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT.
AND HE CORRECTED ME AND SAID NO,
THE FOUNDER IS JACKIE ROBINSON.
>> WOW.
ON THE PART OF THESE CONTRACTS,
HOW DID YOU FIND THEM?
HOW DID YOU ACQUIRE THEM?
WHY WERE THEY GONE FOR SO LONG?
>> I GOT TO TELL YOU, I PINCH
MYSELF EVERY DAY THAT THESE WERE
PUT IN MY HANDS.
SOMEBODY ACQUIRED THEM SHORTLY
AFTER JACKIE SIGNED THEM AND
THEN THAT INDIVIDUAL LOCKED THEM
UP IN A SAFETY DEPOSIT BOX FOR
CLOSE TO 60-SOMETHING YEARS, HE
WAS A HISTORIAN OF HISTORY, A
FORMER BROOKLYN BOROUGH
HISTORIAN, AND THEN THEY WERE
BRIEFLY SOLD PRIVATELY TO
ANOTHER INDIVIDUAL WHO THEN WAS
TERM FINALLY ILL AND WE PURCHAS
THEM FROM HIM.
AND WE DECIDED THE FIRST THING
WE WERE GOING TO DO IS TAKE THEM
TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE AND SHARE
THEM WITH THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.
AND THAT'S WHAT WE'RE GOING TO
DO.
>> IT THOROUGHLY AUTHENTICATED.
>> THEY HAVE BEEN AUTHENTICATED
BY THE TOP AH TUTHENTICATE FORS
THE WORLD.
>> SO LET ME ASK YOU WHAT WAS IT
LIKE THAT DAY WHEN YOU WERE AT
EVERETTE FIELD, DID YOU KNOW HE
WAS EVEN COMING US?
>> INFT WAS A MAJOR DAY IN THE
HISTORY OF BASEBALL.
I REMEMBER HIM COMING IN IN THAT
WHITE, WHITE UNIFORM.
HE WAS A DARKM MAN.
I INTERVIEWED HIM SEVERAL
TIMES.
BUT WHEN WE CAME OUT OF THE
DUGOUT, WE ALL KNEW HISTORY WAS
BEING MADE.
>> WHAT WAS THE FEELING?
>> YOU FELT IT.
THERE WAS GOT 28,000, IT WASN'T
SOLD OUT, BUT THE FANS IN
BROOKLYN LOVED HIM.
HE GOT A LOT OF RAZZING AROUND
THE LEAGUE, A LOT OF PEOPLE TOOK
A LOT OF DESPERATE THINGS
AGAINST HIM, PUTTING BLACK CATS
OUT IN THE DUGOUT, THREATENING
HIS LIFE.
BUT JACKIE REMAINED ABOVE IT
ALL, HE TOOK IT ALL, HE TURNED
THE OTHER CHEEK.
HIS REAL PERSONALITY WAS MUCH
DIFFERENT THAN THAT.
AFTER TWO YEARS WHEN THEY LET
HIM LOOSE, HE WAS A TOUGH,
VIBRANT, ALMOST VICIOUS
COMPETITOR.
BUT FOR TWO YEARS, HE HAD TO
TAKE ALL THAT ABUSE TO PAVE THE
WAY FOR OTHER BLACK AMERICANS TO
COME FORWARD AND PLAY BASEBALL.
AND THEY ALL YOOWE HIM A DEBT.
AND THE PEOPLE OF AMERICA OWE
HIM A DEBT TOO.
>> THANK YOU FOR JOINING US AND
TELLING US ABOUT THESE
CONTRACTS.
IT'S REALLY AMAZING TO BE ABLE
TO SEE THEM.
>> THANK YOU.