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Dodgers Celebrate the 100th Birthday of the Legendary Jackie Robinson

Special educational tours of Dodger Stadium will be held on Saturdays and Sundays at 3 p.m. throughout February

The Los Angeles Dodgers will celebrate Thursday's 100th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's birth by hosting a celebration for 250 children and parents from Union Rescue Mission at Dodger Stadium.

The birthday party will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the statue of Robinson outside the stadium where participants will sing "Happy Birthday" to Robinson. Other activities include a tour of the Jackie Robinson exhibit at the team's Pop-Up Museum followed by a DJ playing music to dance to, a photo booth, a balloon artist, face painting and a petting zoo in the Stadium Club.

It was not immediately clear whether thunderstorms will affect plans.

"The Dodgers are proud to keep Jackie Robinson's spirit alive on his 100th birthday and continue to teach future generations about his life and legacy," said Naomi Rodriguez, the Dodgers vice president of external affairs & community relations. "We know this will be an unforgettable day for hundreds of children, filled with birthday cake, fun and games."

The party will be conducted in partnership with Worthy of Love, a nonprofit organization that hosts monthly birthday parties for children living in the Union Rescue Mission

"It has been a vision of mine to throw birthday parties in stadiums throughout the nation for the 2.5 million children experiencing homelessness," said Mary Davis, founder of Worthy of Love. "To see smiles on the kids' faces as they enter Dodger Stadium will be a dream come true."

The team will continue to celebrate Robinson and his legacy with a special educational tour of Dodger Stadium, which will be held on Saturdays and Sundays at 3 p.m. throughout February.

The hourlong tour highlights Robinson's life, career and influence and will also include admission to the Jackie Robinson exhibit at the Pop-Up Museum. More information can be found at Dodgers.com/Tours.

UCLA will conduct a series of events marking the 100th anniversary of Robinson's birth, including a blood drive today, and a birthday celebration concert and a panel discussion on athletes, social justice and activism, both on Tuesday.

The blood drive will run from 11 a.m.-5:40 p.m. in Ackerman Union. Donors are asked to schedule appointments by calling the UCLA Blood and Platelet Center at (310) 825-0882, extension 2 and mentioning "Jackie Robinson" or "JR100."

Donors will receive two movie tickets and two ticket vouchers to a UCLA baseball game.

Robinson lettered in four sports -- football, basketball, track and field, and baseball while attending UCLA from 1939 to 1941.

Born Jan. 31, 1919 in Cairo, Georgia, Robinson, his four siblings and mother moved to Pasadena in 1920 after his father deserted the family.

Robinson broke Major League Baseball's color line in 1947. He spent his entire 10-year MLB career with the Brooklyn Dodgers, helping lead them to six National League championships and, in 1955, the World Series championship.

Robinson retired from baseball following the 1956 season, declining the join the rival New York Giants after a trade.

In 1957, Robinson was named vice president of Chock Full O' Nuts and later co-founded the Freedom National Bank of Harlem. He was elected to Baseball's Hall of Fame in 1962.

Robinson died of a heart attack in 1972 at the age of 53, far from satisfied.

"He was impatient for change and impatient for a just society," his widow, Rachel Robinson, said in 2005 when a plaque honoring Robinson was unveiled at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

"The steps on the way had to be recognized, but were never enough."

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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