Dodgers, MLB to Mark Jackie Robinson Day

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Los Angeles Dodgers will join the rest of Major League Baseball in marking today's 74th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking baseball's color line.

Manager Dave Roberts said he plans on taking “a big group of coaches, players, 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.

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

Players will 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.

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.

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.

Robinson's successful integration of Major League Baseball is credited with helping change Americans' attitudes toward Blacks 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.

Photo: Getty Images

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