Jackie Robinson Day Tribute PostponedBy: Val Powell - April 16, 2014
Baseball is honoring legendary player Jackie Robinson with Jackie Robinson Day. The baseball pioneer was to be honored at Yankee Stadium before the city’s match against the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday, but rain forced the committee to move the game and ceremony to Wednesday.
Robinson is Major League Baseball’s (MLB) first African-American player, successfully breaking the game’s color line when Dodgers president Branch Rickey signed him to play in 1947. Prior to Robinson’s drafting, black baseball players were relegated to the “Negro leagues,” but the Dodgers put a stop to the six decade-long racial segregation of the sport.
Robinson’s drafting not only ushered in racial equality in baseball, but contemporary American life as well.
In his ten-season career, his team would play in six World Series championships, with a win in 1955. He closed his career with 1,518 hits, 947 runs, 137 home runs, 273 doubles, 54 triples, 197 stolen bases, and 734 RBI.
Derek Jeter, Yankees shortstop, believes that Jackie Robinson Day is a “wonderful thing.” The player has met with Robinson’s family through the years, and is excited to honor Robinson by wearing No. 42 on his jersey.
MLB commissioner Bud Selig calls Robinson an “American icon” and said that his leadership and accomplishments inspire both baseball and society. He continued to say that the player’s legacy led to on-field diversity and participation of youth in sports.
The new schedule of the Dodgers’ commemoration will now take place at the Dodgers Stadium, beginning with a baseball clinic for 120 youths from South LA’s Challengers Boys & Girls Club in the morning, and a gathering of 30 members of the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation’s (LADF).
Other states will feature celebrations, including pre-game festivities, panel discussions, and games in Minneapolis, Chicago, San Diego, Phoenix, and Florida.
In Cincinnati, the Reds will also honor Chuck Harmon, who is the Reds’ first African American player in 1954.
Robinson’s broke the color barrier in baseball 67 years ago — an accomplishment his wife Rachel is proud of. In a statement, she said she is happy that MLB is honoring him and ensuring that “what he stood for” is remembered.
At the same time, a plaque will be unveiled and mounted at Monument Park to honor the late Nelson Mandela, a South African leader who also fought for equal rights. Robinson’s family and Selig will attend the ceremony.
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