Jackie Robinson’s Daughter Joins Bid To Purchase Anaheim Angeles

By Off the BASN Wire
Updated: August 8, 2007

NEW YORK, NY.— Jackie Robinson’s daughter has joined Birmingham’s Donald Watkins in his bid to purchase Major League Baseball’s champion Anaheim Angels.

Sharon Robinson, the daughter of the man who broke baseball’s color barrier, signed an agreement this week to be a limited partner in Watkins’ bid to buy the California team.

“We’ve reached an agreement,” Robinson said Friday from her New York office. “I’m very excited about working with Donald Watkins. I believe it’s a historic sign.” Watkins is bidding to become then first black person to own a majority share of a Major League Baseball team. He has submitted a bid of more than $200 million for the Angels.

The addition of Robinson as an investor is more than historic.

While financial terms including Robinson’s ownership share and the amount of her investment are unknown, her contacts provide Watkins with additional clout.

Robinson has worked in MLB’s New York headquarters since 1998 as the director of education. A former nurse-midwife and college professor, Robinson’s “Breaking Barriers” reading initiative in major league cities reaches 750,000 children a year.

Robinson recently reached an agreement with Major League Baseball to administer the educational program as an independent contractor, removing any potential conflict.

Watkins has been pursuing the Angels for more than a year without any other known investors behind him.

The Angels are owned by Disney, which is using the New York investment firm Lehman Brothers to evaluate potential buyers and conduct the transaction.

Any transfer of ownership would have to be approved by baseball’s current owners.

A mutual friend, Curtis Robinson, a Birmingham native and successful Connecticut businessman, introduced Watkins and Sharon Robinson.

Curtis Robinson is not related to Sharon Robinson.

Watkins said the partnership was a natural move.

“I have a duty to the Robinson family,” said Watkins, an attorney and founder of Birmingham’s Alamerica Bank.

Robinson is one of two children of baseball Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson, who became the first black to play in the major leagues when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.

Jackie Robinson died at 53 of a heart attack, but his impact continues to this day. In 1997, baseball honored the 50th anniversary of the integration of baseball by retiring Robinson’s number, 42, for the season.

The star’s only son, Jackie Robinson Jr., served in Vietnam and died in an automobile accident at the age of 24.