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Teams Prepare for Jackie Robinson Day

Jackie Robinson with Montreal Royals

With the annual Jackie Robinson Day set for Saturday, Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball teams are planning their tributes to Jackie Robinson.

April 15 is an annual day of remembrance in baseball, as it honors the anniversary of when Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier. This year will mark the 70th anniversary of Robinson’s debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers, and MLB will once again honor his legacy throughout the day.

The most notable tribute to Robinson is set for Dodger Stadium. When they host the Arizona Diamondbacks on Saturday, the Los Angeles Dodgers will dedicate a statue of Robinson. To be located near Dodger Stadium’s reserve-level entrances, which are along the left field line, the statue will be the first to be dedicated at the facility.

While other statues of Robinson’s have been dedicated at ballparks around the United States—as well as in Montreal, where he played for the Montreal Royals in 1946—this particular structure will offer its own significance. It marks a fitting tribute from the Dodgers, who have sought to honor Robinson’s legacy in various ways over the years, but are now taking it a step further with the statue.

The statue, sculpted by Branly Cadet, which arrived at Dodger Stadium earlier this week is also receiving praise for its depiction of Robinson, who is shown stealing home. More from The Los Angeles Times:

“Jackie Robinson was known for stealing home,” Cadet said. “Home plate is a highly guarded space on the baseball field. It takes courage and precise timing to steal home.

“From a historical perspective, I think those qualities impressed everyone who was involved in breaking the color line.”

Sharon Robinson said she appreciated that the Oakland-based Cadet visited the Robinson family in New York for consultation and said she “respected the artist’s vision” for the statue.

“I love the way Branly depicted him in his aggressive stance, going into a slide,” Robinson said. “That’s what he brought to Major League Baseball and what he learned from the Negro Leagues, to be a more aggressive baserunner.”

The statue dedication at Dodger Stadium is perhaps the most significant event scheduled for Jackie Robinson Day, but a few minor league events are worthy of attention as well.

At the ballpark where Robinson played his first integrated game, the Dayton Tortugas (High A; Florida State League) will stage a fitting tribute. That evening, every Tortuga will wear a commemorative jersey featuring the number nine—which was worn by Robinson when he took the field in Daytona on March 17, 1946.

Elsewhere, two Florida State League teams will square off in the annual Jackie Robinson Celebration Game at Holman Stadium, located in Vero Beach’s Dodgertown complex. The fourth annual edition of the game will feature the Florida Fire Frogs and the St. Lucie Mets, with the Mets playing as the home team.

Meanwhile, the Memphis Redbirds (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) will take the chance to honor individuals from their city’s own history. That afternoon, the Red Birds will host a forum that features members of The Memphis 13, a group of African-American first grade students who integrated four previously-segregated city schools on October 3, 1961. The forum will take place at AutoZone Park’s Home Plate Club at 4:00 p.m., with the Red Birds’ matchup against the Oklahoma City Dodgers beginning at 6:35 p.m. The Red Birds’ players and coaches will wear commemorative number 42 jerseys, which will be auctioned off during the game.

Finally, the Charlotte Knights (Class AAA; International League) are honoring the Negro Leagues and welcoming five former players, as well as Negro League historians, and a customized historical display featuring photos, artifacts, and more. The celebration will also serve as the team’s annual Jackie Robinson Day Tribute, which will feature all Charlotte Knights players wearing #42 jerseys for the game against the Pawtucket Red Sox.

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