Legacy Connections, the private non-profit fundraising arm of the Rose Bowl Stadium, announced today a gift from Alba and Thomas Tull’s Tull Family Foundation (TFF) to create a commemorative statue at the Rose Bowl honoring the great Jackie Robinson and to assist with ongoing capital improvements at the Stadium. Robinson was posthumously awarded the National Football Foundation’s Gold Medal in 1997.
The statue will depict Robinson, one of America’s greatest sports and civic icons and a Pasadena city treasure, in a football uniform. The first player to break the color barrier in Major League Baseball, Robinson was a role model for many generations. A graduate of nearby John Muir High School, he lettered in four sports at Pasadena City College and successfully competed on the Rose Bowl Stadium field as a gridiron star in 1937 and 1938. Robinson’s prolific athletic career continued at UCLA, where he lettered in four varsity sports, including football. UCLA Football has called the Rose Bowl its home field since 1982.
TFF’s Thomas Tull, a National Football Foundation board member, serves as Founding Chairman of the Board of Legendary Entertainment, and produced 42, the Jackie Robinson film biopic, released in 2013. Tull is a partner in the Pittsburgh Steelers ownership group and serves on its Board of Directors, and is also on the board of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Alba Tull serves on the board of the Jackie Robinson Foundation.
“Jackie Robinson is a true American legend,” said the Tulls, “and we are so honored to be able to recognize his legacy in a town and for the team that meant so much to him and the Robinson family.”
The commemorative statue is scheduled to be installed in Fall of 2017 and will be sculpted by renowned artist, Brian Hanlon, of Hanlon Sculpture Studios in Toms River, New Jersey. It will be located outside of the main gate to America’s Stadium on the northern-most tip of the Parkway extension amidst a redesigned rose garden. The historic Rose Bowl marquee and the vista of the San Gabriel Mountains
will be the statue’s backdrop. The renovation and enhancement of the existing rose garden at the site for better public enjoyment is an important part of the project.
“The legendary courage and competitiveness of Jackie is meaningful for so many as he is a true American champion,” said Rose Bowl General Manager Darryl Dunn. “This iconic venue has seen so many important moments over a near-century, and being able to appropriately honor Jackie’s impact with the first commemorative statue is only fitting.”
Never failing to excite, Robinson was unanimously voted the team MVP at Pasadena Junior College (now PCC) in 1938 and was named first-team quarterback in the Western Conference totaling over 1,000 yards from scrimmage. One of Jackie’s best performances on the Rose Bowl turf took place on November 23, 1938 as Pasadena defeated Cal Tech (39-6) before 18,000 fans. Robinson ran a kickoff back 104 yards for a touchdown, still believed to be the longest in stadium history.
“Football was the sport that first put Robinson in the spotlight, and Robinson made junior college football in the Rose Bowl one of the area’s most-watched events,” wrote Los Angeles Times reporter Shav Glick. “In 1938, Robinson’s running style made crowds of 30,000-40,000 a weekly occurrence at the Rose Bowl for Pasadena home games.”
“The backdrop to the statue is one that personifies the identity of America’s Stadium, and having Jackie front and center as fans and visitors approach this historic vista sends the perfect message of his incredible impact to the local, regional, and national community,” added Legacy’s Executive Director Dedan Brozino.
Having hosted two Olympics (and included in the LA2024 bid as a soccer venue), two World Cup Finals, five Super Bowls, and countless first-class entertainment moments, the Rose Bowl Stadium is a walking museum of sports and entertainment excellence. Many of its most historic moments have been memorialized in various public areas at the Rose Bowl through photos, paintings, and historic timelines.
“Thomas and Alba Tull have been extraordinarily generous in keeping alive Jackie Robinson’s legacy and this is another terrific example,” said Della Britton Baeza, President and CEO of the Jackie Robinson Foundation. “With Legendary Pictures’ “42”, Tull introduced new generations to Jackie’s historic importance and they have been huge supporters of the Foundation and many other efforts around this legacy. Their proactive engagement speaks not only to their appreciation for Jackie’s impact, but to their own humanitarianism.”