Frank Layden, the former Jazz coach, remains a Brooklyn Dodgers fan, 55 years after they moved to Los Angeles. He has a room in his home that has numerous Brooklyn mementos, including a replica shirt and pictures of famed players. He has a signed Willie Mays baseball.
But some things he hasn’t kept, out of sheer altruism.
He had some rookie pictures and cards of Jackie Robinson, the first African-American player in the Major Leagues. Because Branch Rickey was owner/president of the Dodgers in Brooklyn, Layden gave the Robinson cards to Rickey’s grandson, Branch B. Rickey, who is now president of the Pacific Coast League.
“I really felt that (the cards) should be in their family,” Layden said.
Incidentally, Layden said Robinson wasn’t the first African-American player he saw. Ebbets Field would host post-season all-star games involving players from the long-ago Negro leagues. Layden said he saw Satchell Paige before he played in the big leagues.
“Growing up in Brooklyn, baseball was so important to us. It was what identified us,” Layden said. “Brooklyn and the Dodgers – I got to go to games when I was very young.”