This year marks the 71st anniversary of Jackie Robinson signing his professional contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers organization in 1945, which was the first step toward his eventual breaking of the color barrier on April 15, 1947. As has been tradition each April 15th since 2009, MLB will celebrate Jackie Robinson Day with all players and on-field personnel wearing Number '42' during that day's games.
JACKIE ROBINSON DAY BALLPARK ACTIVITY
All Clubs playing at home on Friday, April 15th will commemorate Jackie Robinson Day with special on-field, pre-game ceremonies in their ballparks. Home Clubs will feature Jackie Robinson Day jeweled bases and lineup cards.
The Dodgers will host both Rachel and Sharon Robinson in a special pre-game ceremony that will include Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholars and previous, regional winners of the Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life essay contest, which is run by MLB, Scholastic and Sharon Robinson. It is generously supported by Church & Dwight Co., Inc., maker of ARM & HAMMER™ and OxiClean™ products and a proud sponsor of Major League Baseball. The winners of the 2016 Breaking Barriers essay contest, which marks the program's 20th anniversary, will be announced Monday, April 18th.
'PLAY BALL' IN LOS ANGELES AREA
In recognition of the Robinson family celebrating Jackie Robinson Day in Los Angeles, MLB, in partnership with the Dodgers and the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation, will activate a special PLAY BALL event at a local elementary school, and will be joined by Sharon Robinson and players from the Dodgers. PLAY BALL (PlayBall.org), a joint initiative between MLB and USA Baseball, is the sport's largest effort to encourage youth participation in both formal and casual baseball activities.
Additionally, the MLB Urban Youth Academy in Compton will host an event on Saturday, April 16th that will include PLAY BALL activities and special presentations on player safety, including Pitch Smart and Play Sun Smart resources.
MLB ANNOUNCES EXPANDED COMMITMENT TO THE JACKIE ROBINSON FOUNDATION
Major League Baseball and the Jackie Robinson Foundation (JRF) recently announced that MLB has increased its financial commitment to the Foundation. The two organizations will expand their programmatic partnership beginning this year. MLB will greatly enhance its longstanding philanthropic support by funding 30 four-year JRF scholarships - one for each of the 30 MLB Clubs - and by contributing $1 million to the Foundation's Jackie Robinson Museum project. Additionally, MLB and JRF will engage JRF Scholars to mentor young people in MLB's youth and community partnership programs, including Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI), MLB Urban Youth Academies and MLB-supported Boys & Girls Clubs of America programs. JRF Scholars will mentor participants in these various youth programs, encouraging their young mentees to embrace educational opportunities and joining them in extra-curricular activities, such as attending MLB games with the League's support. With this expanded partnership, MLB and its clubs have now, historically, contributed more than $15 million to the JRF for its scholarship program and for the Jackie Robinson Museum.
With support from donors such as Major League Baseball, the Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholarship Program provides four-years of financial assistance and direct program services annually to 225 highly motivated students attending 100 colleges and universities across the country, and has developed a mentoring curriculum to reach a broad cohort of college students beyond its core "JRF Scholars". The Foundation's unique program offers comprehensive support that includes internship and permanent job placement; curriculum and career guidance; one-on-one mentoring; and leadership and practical life skills training. The Jackie Robinson Foundation's celebrated, hands-on approach has resulted in a consistent, nearly 100% graduation rate throughout its 43-year history.
MLB NETWORK PROGRAMMING
MLB Network is televising extensive programming around Jackie Robinson Day, including the national telecast of Friday's San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles Dodgers game, called by Bob Costas, Harold Reynolds, Tom Verducci and Sam Ryan on MLB Network Showcase*. Leading up to the game, MLB Network will air coverage of Club commemorations plus several interviews with current and former players about Robinson's legacy, including Hall of Famer Hank Aaron, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, Chris Archer, Adam Jones and Brandon Phillips, as well as a new interview by Bob Costas with Robinson's teammate and former Dodgers pitcher Don Newcombe. Finally, this week's episode of Play Ball, MLB Network's new weekly series geared toward kids, will be dedicated to Robinson, including an introduction for the youth audience to Robinson's career, an interview by Harold Reynolds with Curtis Granderson filmed in the Jackie Robinson Rotunda at Citi Field, and a recreation of Robinson stealing home plate in Game 1 of the 1955 World Series by Reynolds and fellow MLB Network analyst Dan Plesac inside MLB Network's Studio 42, named in honor of Robinson. Play Ball airs Saturdays at 10:00 a.m. ET on MLB Network.
MLB.com will have complete coverage of the day's events from each Major League ballpark with photographs, video highlights, interviews and stories from its Club beat and national reporters. Included in the coverage will be a special Jackie Robinson Day edition of the Edward Jones Chatting Cage on MLB.com at 4p.m. EST, when fans will be able to talk live one-on-one with Dodgers manager Dave Roberts prior to the Giants-Dodgers game at Dodger Stadium. Additionally, MLB.com will support Jackie Robinson Day events across MLB.com, the MLB.com At Bat app, Cut4.com, and through official MLB and Club accounts on social media channels including Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram. Jackie Robinson Day will be supported across social media again with its official hashtag - #Jackie42.
SPECIAL MLB.COM AUCTION TO BENEFIT THE JACKIE ROBINSON FOUNDATION
One number '42' jersey will be signed by each member of every Club and auctioned-off on MLB.com (MLB.com/42jersey), with the proceeds benefitting the Jackie Robinson Foundation. The auction will be LIVE on Friday, April 15th.
BASEBALL TOMORROW FUND CONTRIBUTION TO JACKIE'S HIGH SCHOOL
In commemoration of the annual MLB Groundskeepers Conference in January 2016, the Baseball Tomorrow Fund (BTF) provided funding to help renovate the baseball field at John Muir High School, where Jackie attended. The project, which was spearheaded by the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation, included a $50,000 BTF grant to the Pasadena Educational Foundation.
JACKIE ROBINSON DAY BACKGROUND
Robinson played his first Major League game at Ebbets Field on April 15, 1947 as a first baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Major League Baseball has celebrated Jackie Robinson's legacy in an extensive and unified League-wide show of support over the years, including retiring his number throughout the Majors in 1997, dedicating April 15th as Jackie Robinson Day each year since 2004, and requesting that every player and all on-field personnel wear his Number 42 during games scheduled on Jackie Robinson Day since 2009.
Major League Baseball aims to educate all fans about Jackie Robinson, his life's accomplishments and his legacy. For more information, please visit MLBCommunity.org.