NEW YORK -- Dodger Blue, a color that has been missing from this city for 50 years since Brooklyn's former ballclub moved to Los Angeles, will make a reappearance atop the Empire State Building on Tuesday to coincide with the celebration of Jackie Robinson Day throughout Major League Baseball.
Tuesday marks the 61st anniversary of Robinson's 1947 debut at first base for the Dodgers at Ebbets Field, an event that officially ended the color barrier in baseball and was a first step toward the struggle to eliminate race separation in United States society. After his 10-season career with the Dodgers, Robinson went on to become a leader in the civil rights movement and a crusader for racial equality.
The Empire State Building, New York's most famous structure, will be illuminated in the Dodgers' traditional color of bright blue. The edifice at 34th Street and Fifth Avenue that stands 1,454 feet above ground, takes note of events and anniversaries with changing color schemes at its peak, such as blue, white and red for the NFL's New York Giants' Super Bowl championship.
With new investments in infrastructure, public areas and amenities, the Empire State Building has attracted tenants in a diverse array of industries from around the world. Recently named America's favorite building in a poll by the American Institute of Architects, the Empire State Building opened in 1931, with former Gov. Al Smith unlocking its doors, and has since been one of New York City's most enduring symbols.
So, too, has Robinson, who died in 1972. A year later, Rachel Robinson, his widow, organized the Jackie Robinson Foundation to provide college scholarships and leadership counseling to minority students. The Foundation's offices are in lower Manhattan, where the Jackie Robinson Museum is scheduled for a late summer opening in 2009.
"Being a National League team in New York, obviously the Mets have a great relationship with Jackie's extended family," Mets third baseman David Wright said. "It's great to take on that role, and we have guys who enjoy being in a situation where they want to continue that legacy."
Jack O'Connell is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.