Jackie Robinson

How the Dodgers and Major League Baseball Are Honoring the Legendary Jackie Robinson

Jackie Robinson made his ground-breaking debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947.

The Los Angeles Dodgers will join the rest of Major League Baseball in marking Thursday's 74th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking baseball's color line.

The Dodgers organization will begin the day at Gonzales Park in Compton, where they will unveil the Phase One completion of a new multi-million-dollar Dodgers Dream Fields complex.

In partnership with the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation (LADF), the City of Compton, Kershaw's Challenge, and the MLB-MLBPA Youth Development Foundation, there will be a press conference and a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the return of youth sports after the long COVID-19 quarantine.

Designed to support youth baseball and softball, the Dodgers Dream Fields located at Gonzalez Park, will feature three state-of-the-art baseball fields, complete with fencing, dugouts, irrigation, lighting, and scoreboards.

The $2.7 million dollar project at Gonzalez Park will feature Jackie Robinson Stadium, the Rachel Robinson Field, Field No. 42, and the Kershaw's Challenge Fitness and Training Center.

Later in the morning, Manager Dave Roberts said he plans on taking a group of coaches, players and staff to the Jackie Robinson statue at Dodger Stadium's new Centerfield Plaza entrance to “pay our respect, homage to Jackie and do a little bit of reflection on what he meant to us individually, as a club, as an industry and socially across the world.''

As with all special occasions at Dodger Stadium until further notice, the pregame ceremony will be reduced because of restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Thank You, Jackie,'' a special video produced by MLB Network, will be played in all major league stadiums Thursday and Friday, displaying glimpses of the impact Robinson made as both an athlete and a champion of social and racial equality.

The video is narrated by retired outfielder Curtis Granderson, president of The Players Alliance, which describes itself as a group of 143 current and former MLB players, "United to use our voice and platform to create change and equality in our game.''

All players and other on-field personnel will wear Robinson's No. 42, as they have done on each Jackie Robinson Day since 2009. The number 42 was retired throughout Major League Baseball in 1997, on the 50th anniversary of Robinson's April 15, 1947, debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Roberts described seeing a jersey with Robinson's 42 on it in his locker on Jackie Robinson Day as a “moment of humility.''

“I wore the 42 on other uniforms, and to wear it as a major league ballplayer is certainly special, but to wear it with the Dodgers across the front of your chest is magnified,'' Roberts said.

The “42'' logo will appear on uniform sleeves while team-specific uniform font and colors will be featured as a patch on New Era caps.

MLB will donate all licensed royalties from the sales of caps to the Jackie Robinson Foundation, founded by Robinson's widow Rachel in 1973, the year following his death at the age of 53. It provides four-year college scholarships to disadvantaged students of color.

Additionally, in honor of Jackie Robinson Day, newly launched clothing company Leovici, teamed up with designer JP Crawford for their new limited edition"42" hoodie.

The garment features a black and white portrait of Jackie Robinson on a bone-colored hoodie. All proceeds will be donated to the Jackie Robinson Foundation.

“As a company that prides itself on innovation, excellence, and its promise to disrupt “the way things are”, Robinson is not just one of our inspirations, but also one of our greatest heroes. His performance on the field speaks for itself,” said LEOVICI founder Brent Wheatley.

An auction of autographed Dodger merchandise, including jerseys, benefiting the Jackie Robinson Foundation, will be conducted through April 25 here by the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation.

Other auctions supporting the Jackie Robinson Foundation include a 1950 Brooklyn Dodgers game-worn jersey belonging to Hall of Fame catcher and former Robinson teammate, Roy Campanella.

The auction will also include another game-worn jersey by Robinson's defensive partner on the right side of the Brooklyn Dodgers infield, first baseman, Gil Hodges.

Robert Edward Auctions

Both jerseys will be auctioned by Robert Edward Auctions and bidding for the two jerseys concludes on April 18.

Players will also wear special batting practice T-shirts designed by The Players Alliance and provided by Nike, before the games. These shirts will not be sold at retail.

Dodgers players Mookie Betts, and David Price, are among more than 100 MLB players (and counting) of all races and backgrounds who have pledged to donate either their full or partial game-day salary to The Players Alliance on Jackie Robinson Day. By dedicating this day to back the Alliance’s efforts, they are truly playing for change and using their platform to show support for racial equity. 

Jackie Robinson went hitless in four at-bats in his major league debut, but scored what proved to be the winning run in Brooklyn's 5-3 victory over the Boston Braves in front of a crowd announced at 25,623 at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, New York.

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

Photos: Dodger Stadium Renovations Will Dazzle Fans

Robinson's successful integration of Major League Baseball is credited with helping change Americans' attitudes toward Black players and being a catalyst toward later civil rights advances.

“I’ve often said that baseball's proudest moment and its most powerful social statement came when Jackie Robinson first set foot on a Major League Baseball field,'' then-MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said in 2004 in connection with Major League Baseball's first league-wide Jackie Robinson Day.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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