NEW YORK -- In honor of Jackie and Rachel Robinson on the occasion of the 61st anniversary of the late Brooklyn Dodger shattering the sports' racial barrier, Major League Baseball is donating $1.2 million over the course of the next four years to the foundation that bears his name.
The announcement comes as Rachel Robinson, Jackie's nearly 86-year-old widow, is scheduled on Tuesday to tour the nearly constructed Jackie Robinson Rotunda, which is the entry to Citi Field. The new Mets home is slated to open in 2009 and replace Shea Stadium, where the central Robinson celebration will be staged prior to their game against the Nationals later in the day.
"On the eve of Jackie Robinson Day, I am pleased to announce that Major League Baseball will increase its current support of the Jackie Robinson Foundations by funding a scholarship in the name of each of its 30 Clubs," Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. "Major League Baseball has not forgotten and will never forget the great contribution and sacrifice that Jackie made to baseball and to all of society."
Each scholarship -- 271 of them awarded right now to underprivileged minority kids attending 93 colleges and universities -- are worth $10,000 each on an annual basis. The foundation is also now awarding graduate fellowships and sending students overseas, "because the world is global now and they have to learn how to deal with it," Rachel Robinson said.
To that end, each of MLB's 30 teams will now sponsor a scholarship a year to the tune of $300,000 per annum for the next four years. That's in addition to 11 teams that have donated or are committed to donations for scholarships that won't go away with MLB's mass contribution, including long-time support from the likes of the Mets, Yankees, White Sox and Dodgers. The Los Angeles edition of Robinson's team is in the midst of a 10-year, $105,000 a year commitment.
Derek Jeter, the Yankees' captain and shortstop, also sponsors a $10,000 a year scholarship.
Including the latest contribution, MLB will have now donated or pledged $10 million to the foundation since 1996.
"We are immensely grateful to Major League Baseball and Commissioner Selig for their generous support and commitment to our mission of molding future business and social leaders who go on to carry forth Jackie Robinson's ideals and values," said Della Britton Baeza, the foundation's president. "We look forward to showcasing our scholars once again this April 15th in ballparks across the country."
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.