Dodgers to celebrate Jackie Robinson Day
City News Service | 4/15/2013, 8:35 a.m.
LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Dodgers will join the rest of Major League Baseball today in celebrating Jackie Robinson Day exactly 66 years after he broke baseball's color line, with his widow, Rachel, his daughter, Sharon, and son, David, scheduled to attend the game against the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium.
The pregame ceremony will begin at 6:50 p.m. and include a special tribute video. The Dodgers will also honor two of Robinson's teammates, Don Newcombe, the 1956 National League MVP and Cy Young Award winner, and the late Hall of Fame catcher Roy Campanella.
There will be "42" logos on the pitching mound, dugouts, near the foul poles and baselines, recognizing Robinson's number. The Jackie Robinson Day logo will be on the bases and lineup cards. All uniformed personnel for both teams will wear 42.
Harrison Ford, who portrays Brooklyn Dodgers president Branch Rickey in "42," the recently released Warner Bros. film biography of Robinson, will throw a ceremonial first pitch. Sharon Robinson will make the declaration, "It's time for Dodger baseball."
The national anthem will be sung by the 17-member choir of West Angeles Church of God in Christ, which Earvin "Magic" Johnson, the former Laker star who is now a part-owner of the Dodgers, attends. Kelley Jakle, a great-granddaughter of Rickey, will sing "God Bless America."
Sharon Robinson will autograph copies of her new book, "Jackie Robinson: American Hero," from the first through third innings in the right field tent store.
All auto gates and stadium gates will open early at 4:40 p.m. The first 40,000 fans in attendance will receive a statuette of Robinson, Campanella and Newcombe.
"My family and I are honored to be part of the Los Angeles Dodgers' celebration honoring Jackie...," Rachel Robinson said. "Remembering Jackie and what he has meant not only to baseball and the Dodgers but also to celebrate the impact he had and continues to have on society is very special."
This will be the seventh consecutive year on Major League Baseball's Jackie Robinson Day that all Dodger personnel will wear the number and the fifth consecutive year when all major league personnel also do so. The number 42 was retired throughout Major League Baseball in 1997 on the 50th anniversary of Robinson's breaking the color line.
Commissioner Bud Selig allowed it to be worn in 2007 by any player on the 60th anniversary on the suggestion of then-Cincinnati Reds outfielder Ken Griffey Jr.
Robinson, who was raised in Pasadena and attended Muir High School, Pasadena City College and UCLA, made his major league debut on April 15, 1947, playing first base. He went hitless in four at-bats but scored what proved to be the winning run in the Brooklyn Dodgers' 5-3 victory over the Boston Braves in front of a crowd announced at 25,623 at Ebbets Field.
"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," Selig said.
Robinson played his entire major league career with the Brooklyn Dodgers, helping lead them to six National League championships during his 10 seasons, and, in 1955, their only World Series championship in Brooklyn.
The integration of Major League Baseball is credited with helping change Americans' attitudes toward Blacks and serving as a catalyst for subsequent civil rights advances.