Why Carly Simon Was Named The Unofficial Dodgers Mascot By Baseball Legend Jackie Robinson

She's a renowned singer-songwriter with classic hits like "You're So Vain" and "Anticipation" who is set to join the 2022 class of inductees to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. He was one of the greatest baseball players of all time and made history as the first Black athlete to play Major League Baseball when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Carly Simon was just under 2 years old when Jackie Robinson made his barrier-busting National League debut, but the two of them would go on to have a close, affectionate relationship that led to Robinson giving young Simon batting lessons and proclaiming her the unofficial mascot of the Dodgers.

The relationship between the Simons and the Robinsons began in 1955, per the Vineyard Gazette. Jackie, his wife Rachel, and their children were house-hunting with the idea of moving to the Connecticut suburbs outside New York. The family faced a multi-pronged racist attack against their attempt to settle in Connecticut, with brokers as well as neighbors refusing to show them houses or discouraging the family's presence in some neighborhoods, claiming property values would plummet or white families would leave the area rather than live near a Black family. A local paper published an account of the Robinsons' difficulties in finding a home to buy, which caught the eye of Andrea Simon, wife of publishing magnate Richard Simon of the renowned Simon & Schuster publishing company. Andrea reached out to Rachel and offered to accompany her on visits to local homes for sale.

The Robinsons and the Simons were very close

Andrea Simon and Rachel Robinson quickly became friends and the Robinsons found and bought a home a mile away from the Simons in Stamford, Connecticut. As Robinson later told the Vineyard Gazette, "It was exactly what I had been looking for. I was just thrilled. The minute I saw it, I knew that I wanted it." The Robinson family moved in with the Simons while builders completed work on their new home and the families became very close. Peter Simon, brother of Carly, remembered, "Jackie spent so much time teaching us about baseball. We'd stand out in the backyard, and he'd hit us grounders with a tennis racquet and a tennis ball. He used to whale the ball and hit these towering high flies. We were so into it, especially Carly, who was a true-blue Dodger fan."

Carly Simon later recounted her own memories of Jackie Robinson during a 2011 NPR interview with journalist Diane Rehm, noting, "I'm not sure whether my falling in love with baseball came first or whether my getting to know Jackie Robinson and his wife Rachel and his three kids and they're moving in with us for a year and a half had anything to do with my loving baseball." She went on to reminisce about going to Dodgers games with her father and Robinson where "the team got so used to this little 8-year-old coming in with their star — with their big star with the 42 on his back."

Carly Simon got her own Dodgers uniform

Carly Simon went on to tell Diane Rehm that the Dodgers "gave me a little mascot recognition of giving me my own uniform and so I used to go in the dugouts ... and very often sit especially on Pee Wee Reese's lap. I remember that lap was the friendliest to a little squirming 8-year-old who's just out of breath not being able to believe where she was." (Reese is second from left above with fellow Dodgers Spider Jorgensen, Eddie Starkey, and Jackie Robinson.) 

Simon's version of the classic song "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" was used in both the Ken Burns "Baseball" documentary miniseries as well as a CD that accompanied a 2011 picture book of the same title (per another report by the Vineyard Gazette). ABC7 New York discussed the song with Simon as well as her history with Jackie Robinson. She told reporters he'd referred to her as his "lucky charm" during her childhood outings to Brooklyn's Ebbets Field. She went on to call Robinson "gentle and ardent," concerned about "fair treatment for everybody," and that in addition to baseball he "played tennis like nobody else."

Rachel Robinson and Andrea Simon remained close friends until Andrea died in 1994 at the age of 84. Both women lost their husbands far too soon; Richard Simon died in 1960 at age 61 and Jackie Robinson died in 1972 at just 53 years old. Rachel Robinson told the Vineyard Gazette, "Andrea and I had more than a friendship — we were like sisters."