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Recent Acquisitions: Photographs of Baseball Legend Jackie Robinson

Hood Quarterly, spring/summer 2010

This past November, the museum lost a valued and respected employee, Phil Langan. In his role as a visitor services and security staff member over the last four and a half years, Phil was a welcoming and gracious advocate for the museum. Prior to working at the Hood, Phil had a long and illustrious career in the field of sports information at such institutions as Harvard University, Ithaca College, Princeton University, Cornell University, and Brown University. He eventually became Vice President of Public Relations and Community Relations for the Hartford Whalers in 1983, then held the same position with the Pittsburgh Penguins from 1991 to 1996. In June 2009, he was inducted into the College Sports Information Directors of America Hall of Fame. He is greatly missed by his colleagues. Phil often expressed his admiration for the baseball player Jackie Robinson.

After Phil died, the Hood Museum of Art acquired four photographs to acknowledge his contribution to the sports world and his admiration of Robinson. Thisbe Gensler, curatorial intern, researched and wrote on Robinson for an installation on the new acquisitions wall at the entrance to the museum in February. Jackie Robinson (1919–1972) is not only recognized for his exceptional athletic performance but also heralded for his pioneering role in the integration of Major League Baseball. In 1947, he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers and became the first African American to play for the league, breaking the color barrier that had segregated sports for over sixty years. His tremendous performance on the field earned him great (though contested) popularity, and he was voted rookie of the year in 1947 and most valuable player in 1949. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.

Despite the publicity and excitement that greeted his inclusion in the Dodgers, however, Robinson continued to suffer great discrimination from both teammates and the crowds. Yet his ultimate rejection of prejudice was always apparent in his stellar play—a tremendous achievement that no one, in the end, could deny. His renown as an able advocate of civil rights after his retirement from baseball distinguishes Robinson as an American hero whose legacy in the struggle for an end to racial discrimination lives on.

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