On Sunday afternoon, one day before the 66th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s debut in major league baseball, UCLA unveiled a new mural of the former Bruin and Dodger legend.
Situated just a few feet away from a statue of man who broke baseball’s color barrier, the new piece featured 25 colorful tiles depicting Robinson against a backdrop of eight circles. Each symbolized part of his story, from his number, 42, to team logos, to his Army past.
“We are truly honored to be able to play in a stadium that bears his name,” UCLA junior outfielder Brenton Allen said in a speech to the audience at Jackie Robinson Stadium. “His strength and talent is something we remember each and every day in our program.”
Artist Mike Sullivan, an Orange County resident, approached the school about a year ago with his interest in the piece. He is currently in the process of creating a 25-mural series in stadiums and venues around the country, one that will be followed by a coffee-table book with chapters on each mural.
“UCLA is one of the most prestigious universities in our country,” he said. “The Jackie Robinson story, I was grateful to have an opportunity to work on this.”
Sullivan worked with senior associate athletic director Ken Weiner on four or five different pencil-drawn drafts before finalizing the design. He then painted acrylic colors in a distinctive, sharp-lined style before transferring the work digitally to tiles — a process that took around 60 days.
Athletic director Dan Guerrero said the plan soon lined up with the festivities surrounding Jackie Robinson weekend, which includes every player in the MLB wearing Robinson’s retired No. 42 on Monday.
“What he meant to not only UCLA, but to all African-Americans and all individuals that would combat injustice in this world, it’s so important to keep his memory alive,” Guerrero said. “Not only for those who got to see him play or those who remember him because their parents saw him play, but for all those students that come onto campus.”