Dodgers to Honor Scholars on Jackie Robinson Day | NBC Southern California

Dodgers to Honor Scholars on Jackie Robinson Day

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier in 1947.

    The Los Angeles Dodgers will recognize recipients of a team-funded scholarship bearing Jackie Robinson's name before Wednesday's game at Dodger Stadium on the 62nd anniversary of his breaking baseball's color line.

    The Dodgers made a $1 million-plus commitment in 2005 to the Jackie Robinson Foundation, donating $105,000 each year for 10 years to fund 42 college scholarships per year.

    The foundation awards four-year college scholarships to academically gifted minority students with financial needs and provides them with mentoring programs and career counseling.

    Don Newcombe, Robinson's teammate with the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1949-51 and 1954-56, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the game against the San Francisco Giants.

    For the third consecutive year on Major League Baseball's Jackie Robinson Day, all Dodger uniformed personnel will wear Robinson's No. 42, but in a first, all major league players, coaches and umpires will also wear the number.

    "April 15, 1947, is a day that resonates with history throughout Major League Baseball," Commissioner Bud Selig said. "With all major league players, coaches and umpires wearing Jackie's No. 42, we hope to demonstrate the magnitude of his impact on the game of baseball."

    A No. 42 jersey from each team will be signed all team members and auctioned on Major League Baseball's Web site, mlb.com, with proceeds benefiting the Jackie Robinson Foundation.

    The No. 42 was ordered retired throughout baseball by Selig in 1997 on the 50th anniversary of Robinson's major league debut.

    Selig allowed Robinson's number to be worn by any player in 2007 for the 60th anniversary of Robinson's debut on the suggestion of then-Cincinnati Reds star outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. and 240 players wore it. In 2008, 330 players wore No. 42.

    "It's heartwarming to be able to put on the No. 42," said Orlando Hudson, who plays Robinson's position, second base, for the Dodgers.

    "There was so much that Mr. Robinson stood for in this game. The animosity he had to fight, back of the bus, different restaurants and different hotels. And he still kept faith in God and it got him through such an unbelievable career."

    Robinson played his entire major league career with the Brooklyn Dodgers, helping lead them to six National League championships during his 10 seasons, and, in 1955, their only World Series championship in Brooklyn.

    This is the 60th anniversary of Robinson's best season, 1949, when he received the National League's Most Valuable Player Award, won his only batting championship and led the league in stolen bases.

    Robinson's breaking of baseball's color line is credited with spurring other civil rights advances.

    The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. once presented Branch Rickey, the Dodger team president who signed Robinson, with a book which he inscribed, "To Branch, who made my work that much easier," according to Lee Lowenfish, the co-author of a new book on Rickey.

    Rickey began the effort to find a black player to join the Dodgers in 1943 when he became the team's president and a co-owner.

    "I had to get the right man off the field," Rickey said in a 1956 speech. "I couldn't come with a man to break down a tradition that had in it centered and concentrated all the prejudices of a great many people north and south unless he was good. He must justify himself upon the positive principle of merit."

    That man turned out to be Robinson, who was raised in Pasadena, attending Muir High School, Pasadena City College and UCLA and who served as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army during World War II.

    During his service, he was court-martialed on charges including insubordination and disturbing the peace for refusing an order to move to the back of a bus in Fort Hood, Texas, but he was acquitted.

    Rickey met Robinson on Aug. 28, 1945, in what has been called the most important job interview. Rickey acted out scenes Robinson might face to see how Robinson would respond.

    Robinson kept his composure and agreed to a contract with the Dodgers' International League affiliate in Montreal for the 1946 season, setting the stage for his major league debut the following year.