Tennessee State’s football feat in the Ohio Valley Conference earns Video of the Week

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Former Tennessee State head football coach L.C. “Lawrence” Cole poses with brother and former TSU offensive coordinator Johnnie Cole. The Tigers became the first Black college to win the conference in football in a tradition White conference in history back in 1998 & 99.

By Lenny Moon

During the 1998 and 1999 collegiate football campaigns, the Tennessee State Tigers, spearheaded by head coach L.C. Cole and offensive coordinator Johnnie Cole won consecutive Ohio Valley Conference titles as the only Black program in the traditional White conference. The brothers inherited a program that had 9 losing seasons in 10 years prior to their arrival. The Cole-led TSU Tigers compiled 4-7 records his first two seasons, including 4-3 vs OVC opponents. With Tennessee State being the only historically Black institution in the conference annals, the Tigers rose to the occasion during Cole’s third season at the helm with a 9-3 season record and finishing atop of the standings with a 6-1 campaign.                   

The 1998 OVC championship victory represented the first by an HBCU in the history of the conference, and the only time that this feat had been achieved by any Black program in a historically White league. In Cole’s fourth and final year at the Nashville, Tn based institution, he led his Tigers to their second consecutive OVC championship with an 11-1 season record and again finishing on top of the conference with an undefeated 7-0 mark. Although it’s been over two decades since Tennessee entered the history books with their late 90’s success on the gridiron, it’s barely penetrated the radar screen on the national sports landscape. Cole would earn OVC Coach of the year honors in both 1998 & 99 and was the 1-AA National Coach of the Year to cap off their second straight title.

HOF Minnesota Vikings Defensive Lineman Alan Page stars away from Gridiron

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By Lenny Moon

Veteran followers of the National Football League might remember the Minnesota Vikings vaunted “Purple People Eaters” defense that wreaked havoc during the late 60s through the mid 70s. The anchor of that famed contingent was Alan Cedric Page. Although veterans Jim Marshall and Carl Eller were star defensive edge linemen on the team prior to Page’s arrival, the Notre Dame All-American solidified the middle for the next dozen seasons. So much so that the 6-4, 245 tackle earned Pro Bowl honors for nine consecutive campaigns (1968-76), including the NFL MVP in 1971 (uncommon for a defensive player).
 
It was more than a coincidence that Minnesota had not even merited an NFL Playoff slot unit until Page’s second season in the frozen tundra. Although they were one of the perennial contenders during most of that era, the Bud Grant coached NFC entity consistently had difficulties winning the final game of the season; aka the Super Bowl. During an eight year span (1970-78), the Vikings battled their way into four appearances and were 0-4. The team’s inability to “win the big one” never altered the performance of the Canton OH native as he went on to earn the distinction of 6 First Team All-Pro, 2-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, NFL 1970s All-Decade Team, Minnesota Vikings Ring of Honor and Vikings jersey 88 retired among other honors. Page wrapped up his 15-year NFL career with the Chicago Bears where he reunited with his former Minnesota defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan. His crowning moment occurred in 1988 when Page was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
 
Although a dominate player on the gridiron for most of his career, the Notre Dame product was an Academic All-American during his stint in South Bend, Ind. Page attended the University of Minnesota Law School while he was an active player for the Vikings. Additionally, he took on the challenge of serving as a National Football League Players Association player representative for seven seasons and a member of the NFLPA Executive Committee for three campaigns. Having laid the groundwork for his post NFL career, Alan received his Juris Doctor in 1978. In 1992, Page became the first African American to serve on the Minnesota Supreme Court where he would ruled until 2010.
 
Page, along with his late wife Diane Sims Page founded the Page Education Foundation which provides financial and mentoring assistance to students of color in exchange for those students’ commitment to further volunteer in the community. The Page Education Foundation has awarded grants to more than 6,750 students whose volunteer hours have totaled more than 420,000 hours of their mentoring to young children. Along with daughter Kamie, Page has written three children’s books where the proceeds benefit the Page Education Foundation. In November of 2018, the Presidential Medal of Freedom was awarded to Alan Cedric Page.


Page Education Foundation: College Scholarships | Grants
https://www.page-ed.org

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NFL Honors Historically Black Colleges & Universities-Part III

NFL Honors HBCU Series-Part III

By Lenny Moon

The Pro Football Hall of Fame is slated to install the Black College Football Hall of Fame wing within its confines in Canton, OH later this year. It stands to reason that a large chunk of the NFL’s legacy has been contributed by proteges of Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

PART III OF OUR SERIES PROFILING HBCU MEMBERS IN THE PFHOF

WIDE RECEIVERS-(3 OF 5)

Bob Hayes (Class of 2009)

One of the greatest athletes from any era was the gentleman once known as the “World’s Fastest Human”. Although Robert Lee “Bullet Bob” Hayes starred in both football and track and field, it was on the cinder that he initially earned world- wide acclaim. While at Florida A&M University (1961-64), not only did the blazing sprinter never lose a race, he re-established the standard for the 100 yd, 100 meter and 200 yd dashes. This exceptional ability qualified him for the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo Japan where the whole world took notice. He won the 100 meters with a world record-tying 10.06 (in borrowed shoes). Hayes most memorable moment occurred when he anchored the USA’s 4X100 meter contingent. His 8.5 seconds, hand timed leg of America’s come-from-behind victory is the fastest in history.

Hayes was a multi-purpose football player as a Rattler. With his incredible speed, head coach Jake Gaither created several means of getting the pigskin into the hands of the fastest man in the world. The Jacksonville, Fl native would line up at halfback, wingback, or wide receiver. Other times he was utilized on special teams as the team’s featured kickoff and punt returner. The Dallas Cowboys came calling during the 1965 NFL Draft, where “Bullet Bob” was a standout for the next 11 seasons. Hayes revolutionized the pro game, whose lightning speed created the term “stretch the field”. The zone defense is another aspect that was an offset by the NFL as a result of Hayes blowing by corners. He hit the scene running, snaring 46 passes for 1,003 yards and 12 touchdowns his rookie season. He averaged 20 yds per reception for his career, with 71 TDs. The 3-time Pro Bowler was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009.

Charlie Joiner (Class of 1996)

Charles B Joiner Jr  was a three-time All-SWAC selection while hauling in passes from future NFL star signal caller James “Shack” Harris at Grambling State University, and coached by legendary head coach Eddie Robinson. The Lake Charles, La native was drafted by the AFL’s Houston Oilers in the 4th round of the 1969 draft. His first eight seasons of pro ball were played in Houston (1969-72) and with the Cincinnati Bengals (1972-75) where he enjoyed some solid campaigns.

But it was with the San Diego Chargers (1976-86) engineered by head coach Don “Air” Coryell and executed by hall of fame signal caller Dan Fouts that Joiner took his game to another level. He accrued over 1,000 yard receiving four times in that system, and finished his 18-yr AFL/NFL career as the league’s leader in receiving yards, receptions and TD’s by a receiver. Joiner was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1996.

Jerry Rice (Class of 2006)

Without hesitation, Jerry Lee Rice is the greatest wide receiver in the history of professional football. To think that a sparsely recruited, small town Mississippi based athlete would move on to one of the smallest schools (Mississippi Valley State) within the NCAA-FCS landscape and become one of the most prolific pass catchers in collegiate history. Recruited by innovative head football coach Archie “Gunslinger” Cooley, Rice teamed with quarterback Willie “Satellite” Totten to form the early edition of the spread offense. Their unstoppable attack crystalized in 1984, when Valley led the nation by scoring 628 points in 11 games (57 ppg). That season, Rice snared an NCAA leading 112 receptions for 1845 yards for a whopping 27 TDs. All told, the College Football Hall of Fame wide out finished his illustrious career with 301 catches for 4693 yards and 50 touchdowns.

Drafted with the 16th pick of the 1985 NFL Draft, Rice would considerably raise the bar for greatness on the pro level during his 21 yr career. As of 2017, the former HBCU star authored over 100 NFL records. In 1999, The Sporting News recognized Rice as the second greatest player in the history of the NFL, behind only legendary running back Jim Brown of Cleveland. Among his credentials include 3-Time Super Bowl Champion (XXIII,XXIV and XXIX), Super Bowl MVP (XXIII), 13-Time Pro Bowl and 10-time 1st Team All-Pro among many others. Rice was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006

LennyMoonSports Video of the Week

LennyMoonSports pay tribute to Clem Daniels and Willie Ellison

By Lenny Moon

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9x9bRGrrRjY
SEE ABOVE VIDEO

The world of sports recently lost two Texas natives that went on to make their mark in the National Football League. Both were star running backs and both chose to remain in the Lone Star State as student-athletes at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. On March 11th, former Texas Southern halfback Willie Ellison’s life came to an end at 73 yrs of age, while Prairie View’s Clem Daniels passed on March 23rd at eighty three….. Ellison, a native of Lockhart, Tx , played in the NFL from 1967-72 becoming the Los Angeles Rams featured back beginning in 1971. His 247 yards vs the New Orleans Saints in 1971 was an NFL single-game record until broken by OJ Simpson five years later. Daniels NFL career spanned from 1960-68 and was a key weapon for Coach Al Davis Oakland Raiders. Daniels started for the Raiders in the very first Super Bowl  vs the Green Bay Packers in 1967. The McKinney, Tx native is the American Football League’s all-time leading rusher.

Both of these native Texans that went on to star in the pro game, were 1,000 yard rushers (Ellison with 1,000 in 1971) for the Rams, while Daniels, who was a key cog in Prairie View’s 1958 National Championship team, amassed 1099 in 1963 for the Raiders…..

LennyMoonSports remembers former Texas prep stars & former HBCU stars that went on to make their mark in the NFL and AFL; running backs Clem Daniels of Prairie View and Texas Southern’s Willie Ellison.

NFL Honors HBCU Series- Part II

By Lenny Moon

The Pro Football Hall of Fame is slated to install the Black College Football Hall of Fame wing within its confines in Canton, OH later this year. It stands to reason that a large chunk of the NFL’s legacy has been contributed by proteges of Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

PART II OF OUR SERIES PROFILING HBCU MEMBERS IN THE PFHOF

RUNNING BACKS

Leroy Kelly (Class of 1994) 

  • 8th round pick of the 1964 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns (1964-73)                                                                                           
  • Led Morgan State to CIAA Championship in 1962
  • NFL Champion (1964)
  • 6-time Pro Bowl (1966-71)
  • 2-time NFL Rushing Leader (1967,68)
  • 3-time NFL Rushing TD leader (1966-68)
  • NFL 1960s All-Decade Team

Leroy Kelly smoothly converted from being a “BMOC” or Big Man on Campus in Baltimore over at Morgan State University to the ultimate spotlight at the highest level with the NFL championship contending Cleveland Browns in the fall of 1964. The Philadelphia, Pa native asserted himself early as one of the top return specialist in the NFL while backing up the legendary Jim Brown. Kelley vastly contributed to Cleveland’s 1964 NFL Championship as a rookie. This championship would remain the city’s most recent world title until Akron, Oh native LeBron James came along in 2016 to finally end the drought.

Brown suddenly retired shortly before the launching of the 1966 season to pursue his acting career, propelling Kelly to the starting position in his third NFL campaign. Faced with the unenviable position of replacing arguably the best football player that the game has ever witnessed, Kelly accepted the challenge and concentrated on becoming the best Leroy Kelly he could become. The now featured back in the Browns backfield promptly rushed for over 1,000 yards for the next three seasons while also leading the NFL in rushing touchdowns those same campaigns.

Walter “Sweetness” Payton (Class of 1993)

  • 4th pick of the 1st Rd of the 1975 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears (1975-87)
  • Super Bowl Champion (XX)-1986
  • 9-time NFL Pro Bowl
  • Career rushing total of 16, 726 yards was an NFL record until broken by Emmitt Smith in 2002
  • College Football Hall of Fame (1996)
  • NFL All-Decade Team 1970s
  • NFL All-Decade Team 1980s
  • NFL 75th Anniversary All-time Team

If ever there was a “bigger than life” personality in pro sports, then small town Mississippi product Walter Jerry Payton would certainly fit the bill. On the down side of Payton’s story, his life ended at the tender age of 45 from bile duct-related cancer. Athletically speaking, it was apparent from a very early stage that he was an extraordinary athlete. Walter wrapped up his final two seasons at the prep level at recently integrated Columbia High (Ms) where he starred in football, basketball and track.

He selected Jackson State University in his home state, primarily because his older  brother Eddie was a member of the football team. Once there, he was now amongst a contingent of future NFL stars such as Pro Football Hall of Famers Jackie Slater and Robert Brazile. Among others stars on the JSU squad were Leon Gray, Rickey Young, Jerome Barkum and Don Reese. Payton would earn All-American status and became one of the early legitimate Heisman Trophy candidates from an HBCU in 1974. The Chicago Bears selected “Sweetness” with the fourth pick of the 1975 NFL Draft (teammate Brazile was taken two picks later in the same draft).

His breakout season with Chicago was his sophomore campaign in 1976 when he rushed for nearly 1,400 yards on a struggling franchise, 13 TDs and MVP honors in the 1977 NFL Pro Bowl. From there he never looked back, accounting for 1,852 rushing yardage that very next season with 16 TDs. Included in that total was a then NFL record 275 yds vs Minnesota, eclipsing the 273 held by O.J. Simpson. Collectively the mercurial 5-10, 205 halfback rushed for 1,200 yds or more in 10 of his 13 seasons in the NFL.

NFL honors HBCU Products and the Black College Football Hall of Fame

By Lenny Moon

The Pro Football Hall of Fame is slated to install the Black college Football Hall of Fame wing within its confines in Canton, OH later this year. It stands to reason that a large chunk of the NFL’s legacy has been contributed by proteges of Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

A breakdown of PFHOF members of HBCU decent shows us that 29 players have such a pedigree, with Jackson State’s Robert “Dr Doom” Brazile becoming the most recent in 2018. The former Houston Oilers star became the third linebacker to enter the hall and the fourth JSU Tiger to be enshrined. Collectively, there are 17 defensive and 12 offensive players that comprise this assembly of HBCU representatives in the PFHOF (see below)

OFFENSE:

Running Backs [2]

Leroy Kelley(’94)……………..Morgan State [1960-63]……….…Cleveland Browns

Walter Payton(’93)………….Jackson State [1971-74]….…….…Chicago Bears

Receivers [5]

Bob Hayes(’09)……………….Florida A&M [1960-63]……….……Dallas Cowboys

Charlie Joiner(’96)………….Grambling State [1965-68]….……Houston/San Diego

Jerry Rice(’10)………………..Miss Valley St [1981-84]….……….San Francisco/Oakland

Shannon Sharpe(’11)………Savannah State[1986-89]………..Denver/Baltimore

John Stallworth(’02)……….Alabama A&M[1970-73]………….Pittsburgh Steelers

Offensive Linemen [5]

Roosevelt Brown(’75)……Morgan State [1949-52]…………….New York Giants

Larry Little(’93)……………..Bethune Cookman [1963-66]…….Miami Dolphins

Art Shell(’89)…………………Md Eastern Shore [1964-67]……..Oakland Raiders

Jackie Slater(’01)…………..Jackson State [1972-75]…………….LA/St Louis Rams

Rayfield Wright(’06)……..Ft Valley State [1963-66]……………Dallas Cowboys

DEFENSE:

Defensive Linemen [8]

Elvin Bethea(’03)…………..N Carolina A&T [1964-67]………….Houston Oilers

Buck Buchanan(’90)………Grambling State [1959-62]………..Kansas City Chiefs

Willie Davis(’81)……………Grambling State [1952-55]…….…..Green Bay Packers

Richard Dent(’11)…………Tennessee State [1979-82]….……..Chicago Bears

Len Ford(’76)…………………..Morgan State [1944]………………..Cleveland Browns

Claude Humphrey(’16)……Tennessee State [1964-67]……….Atlanta Falcons

Deacon Jones(’80)…….…….Miss Valley.SC St [1960]……………LA Rams

Michael Strahan(’14)………Texas Southern [1989-92]…………New York Giants

Linebackers [3]

Robert Brazile(’18)………….Jackson State [1971-74]……………Houston Oilers

Harry Carson(’06)……………SC State [1972-75]……………………New York Giants

Willie Lanier(’86)…………….Morgan State [1963-66]…………..Kansas City Chiefs

Secondary [6]

Lem Barney(’92)……………..Jackson State [1963-66]…………..Detroit Lions

Mel Blount(’89)………………Southern A&M [1966-69].………..Pittsburgh Steelers

Willie Brown(’84)……………Grambling State [1959-62]….……Oakland Raiders

Kenny Houston(’86)……….Prairie View A&M [1963-66]……..Houston/Wash

Emmitt Thomas(’08)………Bishop [1963-66]………………………Kansas City Chiefs

Aeneas Williams(’14)……..Southern A&M [1989-90]…………St Louis/Arizona

We’ll highlight each of the aforementioned segments of these former great HBCU gridders that have gone on to immortality and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

NEXT WEEK:

Running Backs

Doug Williams Super Bowl XXII Performance was a Jackie Robinson-Like Moment for Black QB’s in the NFL

By Lenny Moon

The year was 1988, the 68th year that football was played professionally by the National Football League. Fritz Pollard is said to be the first Black gridder to play in the NFL, while Marlin Briscoe is recorded as the first African American to become a starting quarterback in the league by the Denver Broncos in 1968. Along the way, gradual steps were being made by the Black signal callers such as the Los Angeles Rams James “Shack” Harris (GSU) evolving to earn Pro Bowl status in 1974. That same contest, Harris walked away with the Most Valuable Player award; both of course the first of its kind. Warren Moon was forced to matriculate across the border to Canada in 1978, to have an opportunity to apply his craft as a pro quarterback; totally overlooked by the NFL after earning PAC-8 Player of the Year while at the University of Washington. He led his Huskies to an upset victory over highly favored Michigan, but still was requested to change positions to be considered as a candidate to play in the league.

To his credit, Moon made the most of maximizing his opportunity while with the Edmonton Eskimos, leading them to five Grey Cup (their version of a Super Bowl) championships in his six seasons there. It required this type of eye-popping performance by the Los Angeles, Ca native to capture the attention of the USA’s NFL. In 1984, the pro football world witnessed a bidding war for a signal caller from north of the border who was once totally overlooked from getting a shot six year earlier. The Houston Oilers ultimately won the hotly contested bidding war, making the rifle-arm field general the highest paid player in the game. Once upgraded talent was plugged in to complement their talented quarterback, Moon became one of the best in the NFL and inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006.

With that being provided as the foundation, it was perhaps poetic justice that a protégé of legendary college football coach Eddie Robinson would evolve into a history making figure. In addition to the aforementioned “Shack” Harris, there was a Heisman Trophy candidate, signal caller being developed out of that same Grambling State program during the late 70’s. Although Doug Williams finished fourth in the Heisman balloting to Earl Campbell in 1977, his road to become the first Black QB to take a snap in the Super Bowl was not a smooth one. Selected with the 17th pick of the first round of the 1978 NFL Draft by Tampa, Williams led a downtrodden franchise into one that participated in the playoffs in three of his five seasons there. When it came time to be compensated fair market value, Doug was forced to weigh other options and selected the then fledgling United State Football League for two seasons. When that league folded, Williams was completely out of football until Joe Gibbs and the Washington Redskins came calling representing his only NFL offer.

Brought in to be an understudy to starter Jay Schroeder, the Zachary, La native was called upon to lead the Skins in their 1987 playoff run, with victories over Chicago and Minnesota due to an injury to Schroeder. This propelled Williams to the stage that no other Black signal caller before him had ever experienced, Super Bowl XXII vs the Denver Broncos and certain hall of famer John Elway. With the weight of the world on his shoulders, the GSU product was actually injured in the first half, by hyper-extended his knee while dropping back to throw. But before the half ended and trailing 10-0, Williams spearheaded his team to 35 unanswered points throwing for four touchdown passes. The Redskins defeated the Broncos 42-10, with Williams procuring the MVP trophy and establishing a multitude of Super Bowl passing records in the process.

I remember asking Doug about that Super Bowl contest and his vivid memories from that history-making game. As opposed to reflecting on the X’s and O’s, he promptly offered being greeted by his college coach in the tunnel while heading toward the locker room. “Coach (Robinson) had tears in his eyes as we embraced. He told me that son, I’m so proud that you got back up and finished the job” he stated. All told, the rifle-armed QB led his team to a record 35 points in a quarter, four TD passes in a quarter and 306 yards passing in one half. This was accomplished despite being asked during Media Day of Super Bowl Week, “How long have you been a Black quarterback?”.

Hall of Fame QB Subs for Ailing Teammate

Joe Namath To Represent Former Jets Teammate Emerson Boozer at Black College Football Hall of Fame Induction

Atlanta, GA (February 12, 2019) – Pro Football Hall of Fame member and NFL Legend Joe Namath will be in Atlanta this weekend supporting his former New York Jets teammate, Emerson Boozer. Namath will represent Boozer, whose health is preventing him from attending personally, for his induction into the Black College Football Hall of Fame (BCFHOF), of which Boozer is part of the 2019 Class. 

Seven inductees were selected from a list of 25 Finalists who had been determined earlier by the BCFHOF Selection Committee. The Class of 2019 includes Emerson Boozer (Maryland Eastern Shore), Hugh Douglas (Central State), Rich “Tombstone” Jackson (Southern),Frank Lewis (Grambling State), Timmy Newsome (Winston-Salem State), John Taylor (Delaware State) as player inductees, and Coach Arnett “Ace” Mumford (Jarvis Christian College, Bishop College, Texas College and Southern University).

Votes were tallied from the 12-member Selection Committee, comprised of prominent journalists, commentators and historians, as well as former NFL General Managers and executives, and from previous BCFHOF inductees to determine the Inductees.

“While we wish Emerson could celebrate his induction personally, what better person to represent Emerson than his teammate and Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath,” said James “Shack” Harris, BCFHOF Co-Founder and 2012 inductee. “Emerson and Joe won a Super Bowl together, so we’re proud to welcome Joe to the Induction Ceremony of the Black College Football Hall of Fame.”

The 2019 Black College Football Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, presented by the Atlanta Falcons, takes place at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta this Saturday, February 16. LIMITED TICKETS are still available at www.BlackCollegeFootballHOF.org.

 About Black College Football Hall of Fame

The Black College Football Hall of Fame was established in October of 2009 by African-American pioneers and quarterbacks, Pro Bowl MVP James “Shack” Harris and Super Bowl MVP Doug Williams, to preserve the history and honor the greatest football players, coaches and contributors from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). There have been 70 Inductees since inception, including Mel BlountJames HarrisWillie LanierArt Shell and Doug Williams, who serve as Trustees.

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LennyMoonSports pays Tribute to MLB Legend Frank Robinson


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Veteran sports broadcaster Lenny Moon of LennyMoonSports pays tribute to MLB legend Frank Robinson. The Hall of Fame slugger became his sport’s first Black manager, being offered that opportunity by the Cleveland Indians in 1975. In his very first contest as player/manger for the Tribe, the author of 586 homers slammed one of those during his historic debut. Highlighted within the video is a conversation Moon had with Robby discussing that history-making occurrence and what he felt prepared him for that opportunity. At the time of his death on February 7 2019, Robinson was 10th on the all-time home run list with 586 round trippers.

Happy 100th B-Day Salute to Jackie Robinson, an American Icon


The date of January 31 2019 represents the 100th day of birth of American icon Jackie Robinson. The major league baseball color barrier breaker was born on January 31 1919, and died at a relatively eary age of 53 in 1972. Mrs Rachel Robinson, widow of the late Booklyn Dodgers star, talks with veteran sports broadcaster Lenny Moon about their rugged path to become two of the most significant citizens in American history. Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947, was Rookie of the Year that same campaign, earned the MVP of tne NL in 1949, and was inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame in 1962. Mrs Rachel Robinson, founder of the Jackie Robinson Foundation, is scheduled to open their new building in 2019 in Brooklyn, New York