Major League Baseball Commemorates Jackie Robinson Day With 65th Anniversary

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Major League Baseball is commemorating Jackie Robinson Day on Sunday, April 15, 2012 with a League-wide 65th anniversary recognition of Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson breaking the game’s color barrier in 1947. To highlight this special occasion, all players and on-field personnel will once again wear Number 42. Additionally, MLB will release a new national public service announcement voiced by Hall of Fame Broadcaster Vin Scully, will host a baseball and softball clinic for youth from select Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) programs in the New York area, and Clubs will hold special ceremonies in MLB ballparks around the country, including one featuring the Robinson family at Yankee Stadium.

“When Jackie Robinson took the field in Brooklyn 65 years ago, he transcended the sport he loved and helped change our country in the most powerful way imaginable,” said Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig. “It is a privilege for Major League Baseball to celebrate Jackie’s enduring legacy each year, and we are proud that every April 15th, our young fans around the world have an opportunity to learn everything that the Number 42 stands for – courage, grace and determination.”

“It gives us great pride to commemorate the 65th anniversary of Jack’s barrier-breaking accomplishments,” said Rachel Robinson, Jackie’s wife and Founder of the Jackie Robinson Foundation. “This anniversary serves as a reminder of Jack’s enduring legacy and the profound impact he had on America. It is my hope that this commemoration serves as an inspiration to all as we look to unite behind our common goals.”

All Clubs playing at home on Sunday, April 15th will commemorate Jackie Robinson Day with special pregame ceremonies in their ballparks. Home Clubs will feature Jackie Robinson Day jeweled bases and lineup cards, and a special video will be shown in-stadium highlighting Jackie’s story and nine values. Clubs not playing at home on April 15th will hold Jackie Robinson Day commemorations at their ballparks during another homestand later in the month. The Robinson family will join MLB in a special Jackie Robinson Day celebration at Yankee Stadium, prior to the 8:05 p.m. (ET) Sunday Night Game on ESPN featuring the New York Yankees against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The ceremony will include Rachel and Sharon Robinson, Jackie’s daughter, MLB Educational Programming Consultant and Vice Chair of the Jackie Robinson Foundation.

Major League Baseball will debut a Jackie Robinson Day public service announcement on Saturday, April 14th that traces Baseball’s diverse history of legends and today’s stars back to Jackie Robinson. The PSA will air nationally and is voiced by Hall of Fame broadcaster for the Los Angeles Dodgers Vin Scully, who also called Brooklyn Dodgers games that Robinson played in. It features (in order of appearance) All-Stars Jacoby Ellsbury, Matt Kemp, Ichiro Suzuki and Mariano Rivera, as well as Baseball Legends Frank Thomas, Tony Gwynn, Ozzie Smith, Eddie Murray, Rod Carew, Frank Robinson, Ernie Banks, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Jackie Robinson.

On Sunday, April 15, 2012, Major League Baseball and Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) will host a baseball and softball clinic on the baseball field in Macombs Dam Park across the street from Yankee Stadium for 200 young boys and girls from programs throughout the New York-area. The clinic will feature MLB executives, representatives from the New York City Parks Department, the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation and representatives from the Yankees and the Angels. The RBI program is a MLB youth outreach initiative designed to give underserved young people and communities the opportunity to play baseball and softball, encourage academic success and teach the value of teamwork and other important life lessons.

One Number 42 jersey from each Club will be signed and auctioned-off on MLB.com, with the proceeds benefitting the Jackie Robinson Foundation. The Foundation, established in 1973, provides four-year college scholarships, graduate school grants and extensive mentoring to a diverse group of academically distinguished students with leadership potential. The Foundation strives to cultivate future leaders who will be ambassadors of Jackie Robinson’s guiding life tenet, “A life is not important except in its impact on other lives.” Major League Baseball and its Clubs are longstanding supporters of the Jackie Robinson Foundation, and currently sponsor more than 80 Jackie Robinson Scholars.

On Thursday, April 12, 2012, Major League Baseball and Sharon Robinson will announce the winners of the 2012 Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life Essay Contest, which recognizes students for their efforts to overcome personal barriers using the values exemplified by Jackie Robinson. Following the official announcement, Sharon will visit select winners’ schools to personally congratulate and recognize them.

To honor Jackie Robinson Day, MLB Network will highlight the day’s celebrations throughout its signature studio show MLB Tonight, beginning at 1:00 p.m. ET. Additionally, MLB Network will re-air MLB Productions’ 2011 special Letters from Jackie: The Private Thoughts of Jackie Robinson on Sunday, April 15th at 11:00 a.m. ET. The program focuses on Robinson’s role in the American civil rights movement, predominantly after he retired from baseball. Hosted by New York Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson and narrated by actor Dennis Haysbert, the story is told in Robinson’s own words, through correspondence he maintained during his lifetime with political figures including Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy, and a young pen pal named Ron Rabinovitz, with whom Robinson kept in touch from 1955 to his death in 1972. MLB Network will also air MLB Productions’ Pride and Perseverance: The Story of the Negro Leagues on Monday, April 16th at 11:00 a.m. ET. The documentary, narrated by Hall of Famer and Negro Leagues advocate Dave Winfield, traces the history of African Americans in the Negro Leagues and Major League Baseball, culminating with Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in 1947.

MLB.com will have complete coverage of the events at each Major League ballpark with photographs, video highlights and interviews and stories from its Club beat and national reporters, including Meggie Zahneis, the 2011 Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life Grand Prize Essay Winner who earned a breakthrough job at MLB.com. In addition, MLB.com will support Jackie Robinson Day events across MLB.com,  Cut4.com, and social media platforms including Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter, where the hashtag #42 will be used to unify the commemorations.

Robinson played his first Major League game at Ebbets Field on April 15, 1947 as a first baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Commissioner Selig and MLB have celebrated Robinson’s legacy in a unified, League-wide show of support for many years, including retiring his number throughout the League 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 through the RBI program, Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life, and other initiatives including Diverse Business Partners and the MLB Urban Youth Academies. For more information, please visit www.MLBCommunity.org.

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