Jackie Robinson's legacy will be honored today throughout Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball, with teams planning onfield ceremonies and one high-profile MiLB game played at Dodgertown.
Robinson broke MLB's color barrier in 1947, and teams will commemorate the 67th anniversary with onfield, pregame ceremonies in MLB ballparks, including a special celebration featuring the families of Jackie Robinson and Nelson Mandela at Yankee Stadium. Teams will feature Jackie Robinson Day jeweled bases and lineup cards, and all players are wearing number 42 -- Robinson's number, retired across all of Major League Baseball -- during today's games. A number of teams will host Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholars and include them in their pregame, onfield ceremonies. Prior to the Jackie Robinson Day interleague game between the Yankees and the Chicago Cubs, the Robinson family will join the family of Nelson Mandela, the New York Yankees and distinguished guests in a Monument Park ceremony to unveil a plaque dedicated to Mandela.
"Jackie Robinson is an American icon whose accomplishments and leadership continue to inspire us in Baseball and our society at large," said Bud Selig. "Major League Baseball proudly celebrates his enduring legacy, which is reflected by extraordinary on-field diversity of players from all backgrounds, enthusiastic participation in youth baseball and softball, and proven results in diverse business efforts."
"I am quite proud that when Jack stepped onto the field on April 15, 1947, and broke the color barrier in baseball, he helped to further social change in America," said Rachel Robinson. "On behalf of our family and the Jackie Robinson Foundation, we are thrilled that Major League Baseball continues to honor him and works to ensure that what he stood for will not be forgotten by future generations."
Some of the events already started: The annual MLB Diversity Business Summit began yesterday and runs through today. The Summit, co-hosted by the New York Yankees, is a sports employment conference and supplier diversity trade fair, and uniquely and directly connects attendees with decision-makers for employment and business opportunities from all 30 MLB teams, MiLB teams, MLB Network, MLB Advanced Media and MLB's Central Office in New York City. Various elements of the third annual MLB Diversity Business Summit include a keynote speech by Selig, league-wide networking, matchmaking sessions for entrepreneurs, interviews for job seekers, panel discussions, workshops and more.
Yesterday, MLB held a clinic for Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) youth from the greater New York City area at Macombs Dam Park, across the street from Yankee Stadium, featuring Sharon Robinson, Jackie's daughter, MLB Educational Programming Consultant and author, MLB Network Analysts Harold Reynolds and Cliff Floyd as well as Jackie Bradley, Jr. of the Boston Red Sox and Dellin Betances of the New York Yankees. The RBI program is the MLB youth initiative designed to give young people from underserved communities, ages 5 to 18, the opportunity to play baseball and softball, encourage academic success and teach the value of teamwork and other important life lessons.
MiLB teams will also mark the occasion. In Florida, the High Class A Florida State League Brevard County Manatees and Lakeland Flying Tigers are playing a single game at Historic Dodgertown's Holman Stadium at 6:30 p.m.
This will be the first time that a Florida State League game will be played at Holman Stadium since August 30, 2008. Dodgertown formerly hosted spring training for the Brooklyn Dodgers and then the Los Angeles Dodgers between 1948 and 2008 before the team shifted spring operations to Arizona. Today Dodgertown is managed by former Dodger owner Peter O’Malley since 2012. O’Malley, whose family developed and expanded the site formerly known as Dodgertown for nearly 50 years, partnered with his sister Terry O’Malley Seidler and former Dodger star pitchers Chan Ho Park and Hideo Nomo.
“Historic Dodgertown is truly the cradle of baseball’s racial integration,” said Minor League Baseball President & CEO Pat O’Conner. “The activities on those hallowed grounds and the exploits of Jackie Robinson changed not only baseball, but America and the world.
“There is no more fitting tribute to Jackie Robinson’s legacy and Historic Dodgertown’s place in history than to play a professional baseball game in Vero Beach on April 15. I applaud the efforts of Peter O’Malley and the Florida State League in giving Minor League Baseball a role in the celebration.”
RELATED STORIES: Pro baseball returns to Vero Beach -- for a day
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