Major League Baseball and its 30 clubs celebrated Jackie Robinson Day this week, and along with the tradition of everyone wearing No. 42 in honor of baseball’s most important pioneer, individual teams enacted their own activities, too.
The following is a synopsis of how select teams celebrated Robinson this week:
The Brewers partnered with EVERFI Summer Slugger to create a Jackie Robinson trivia contest for students to highlight the impact Jackie’s legacy to a society, particularly through his historic, trailblazing baseball accomplishments as well as efforts as an advocate for civil rights and equality. Six winners will be selected for a Brewers prize.
The D-backs convened a panel of three to tell “untold stories” about Jackie and released them on their social channels. They include a 102-year-old man who competed against Jackie in junior college, the curator of the Negro Leagues Museum and a scholar who recently wrote a book about him who focuses on Jackie’s post-playing career. The goal was to bring attention to the periods before and after 1947, the year Robinson broke the color barrier.
The Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation (LADF), in partnership with the city of Compton, Kershaw’s Challenge and the MLB-MLBPA Youth Development Foundation (MLB-MLBPA), unveiled the Phase One completion of a multimillion-dollar Dodgers Dreamfields complex at Gonzales Park in Compton.
Designed to support youth baseball and softball, from T-ball to college athletics, the Dodgers Dreamfields at Gonzales Park feature three fields (Field 42, Rachel Robinson Field and Jackie Robinson Stadium) with new playing surfaces, fencing, dugouts, irrigation upgrades, lighting, paint and scoreboards. The project also included LADF’s Science of Baseball outdoor classroom and the Kershaw’s Challenge Training and Fitness Zone.
The Dodgers also met as a team at the Jackie Robinson statue in Center Field Plaza, where manager Dave Roberts shared his thoughts on Robinson’s continued impact on today’s game.
The Indians had 42 jerseys delivered to the eighth-grade classroom Triston McKenzie is mentoring this year, and his entire lesson plan on Tuesday was designed around Jackie Robinson and the impact he had on McKenzie. They talked about trailblazers, gave examples of some trailblazers in the kids’ lives and McKenzie encouraged the kids to become trailblazers for others.
The celebration began with two virtual events for the afterschool programs at Boys & Girls Clubs in Palm Beach County and Urgent, Inc. Marlins prospects Nasim Nunez, Thomas Jones, Brady Puckett, Lorenzo Hampton, Bryson Brigman and Sean Reynolds led conversations with the students, focused on the impact Jackie Robinson had on the game of baseball and the civil rights movement. The students also watched a video to learn about Jackie’s life. URGENT, Inc. is a Miami-based youth and community development organization, established in 1994, dedicated to empowering young minds to transform their communities.
With the support of Nike, the Miami Marlins Foundation will launch the inaugural season of Jr. RBI at Gwen Cherry Park in Liberty City presented by UHealth-The University of Miami Health System. Opening Day will take place on the week of April 26.
The Marlins’ organization has taken an active role in the call for social change and equality, including a previously announced $420,000 donation to the Jackie Robinson Foundation (JRF) with a focus on empowering South Florida youth. The substantial contribution supports the JRF Scholarship program, yielding a $20,000 annual four-year scholarship for a deserving outstanding African American student from South Florida that demonstrates Jackie’s nine values. With the support of Nike, the organization will be awarding its first scholarship in the fall of 2021. Fans can learn about the scholarship and the organization’s additional actions around social justice through a new engaging and interactive display at loanDepot park on the promenade level near Section 16.
Each year, the Marlins recognize the Jackie Robinson Employee of the Year for the front office staff member who best exhibits Jackie’s nine values. In addition, the Marlins have hosted intimate conversations about the life and legacy of Jackie Robinson with members of 5000 Role Models, Boys & Girls Clubs of Miami-Dade and students from Miami-Dade County Public Schools. In 2019, a beautification project was organized by the team to inspire students at Charles Drew K-8 Center in Liberty City with a Jackie Robinson-themed mural.
Signed game-worn jerseys from Jackie Robinson Day will be auctioned off in May, with proceeds benefiting the Nationals Youth Baseball Academy and the Jackie Robinson Foundation.
All fans received an Andrew McCutchen Philadelphia Stars T-Shirt. Plus, Mahlene Duckett threw the ceremonial first pitch in honor of her late father and Philadelphia Stars player Mahlon Duckett. The pregame event also included video highlights from the dedication of a new Philadelphia Stars display in the Suite Level lobby at Citizens Bank Park, featuring a cameo from McCutchen.
The new area showcases floor-to-ceiling graphics of the Philadelphia Stars from their playing days, as well as an information panel covering “The Story of the Philadelphia Stars.” Also featured are paintings of two local players who starred in the Negro Leagues and are currently enshrined in Cooperstown: Judy Johnson from the Hilldale club and Roy Campanella, a Philadelphia native who played for the Baltimore Elite Giants, Philadelphia Stars and Brooklyn Dodgers.
The Pirates and Major League Baseball honored the African American Chamber of Commerce of Western Pennsylvania as this year’s Most Valuable Diverse Business Partner for 2021. The Pirates host the group in the Pirates Charities Suite and took part in an in-game award presentation from Pirates chairman Bob Nutting and president Travis Williams.
The award recognizes the sport’s diverse-owned businesses that were nominated and awarded based on performances that went above and beyond the norm to exhibit quality, class and professionalism in all aspects of their business.
On Friday, the first 14,000 fans entering Globe Life Field received a Texas Rangers/Jackie Robinson Night Calendar, presented by TXU Energy. The 12-month calendar features photos of Robinson and prominent all-time Rangers African American players. The net proceeds from Friday’s Texas 2 Split 50/50 Raffle will be donated to the Jackie Robinson Foundation. The Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation will also make a donation to The Players Alliance.
The Rangers also hosted youngsters from the Texas Rangers MLB Youth Academy at Mercy Street Sports Complex presented by Toyota in West Dallas and from My Brother’s Keeper Education Program in Fort Worth at Friday’s game. Community and civic leaders from Arlington, Dallas and Fort Worth were also in attendance.
The national anthem was performed by Dallas native, singer-songwriter and actress Jada Arnell. In-game elements included several video presentations on the life and legacy of Jackie Robinson.
In response to the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and so many others, the Rays Baseball Foundation and Rowdies Soccer Fund created the Racial Equity Grant Fund to build power within communities that have been historically overlooked because of systemic racism.
The goals: Invest in communities most impacted by structural racism and oppression; support organizations making an impact in the areas of housing, workforce development, health equity, criminal justice reform, education and youth development; support anti-racist organizations and leadership.
The Rays Baseball Foundation and Rowdies Soccer Fund is committed to upholding equity and inclusion and will be committing $100,000 annually in the fight against systemic racism.
Fans in attendance of the game on Friday received a Jackie Robinson baseball card, presented by Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio. The RCF Group received the 2021 Most Valuable Diverse Business Partner Award, presented annually by the Reds to recognize diverse-owned businesses that exhibit and continue the legacy of Jackie Robinson.
Earlier in the day on Friday, Reds pitcher Amir Garrett and first-base coach Delino DeShields met virtually with Clark Montessori High School student-athletes to discuss Robinson’s legacy.
Reds fans were invited to share their thoughts on Jackie and how he’s inspired them by using #Jackie42 on social media. Kids can learn more about Jackie and participate in a Jackie Robinson Day Challenge on the MLB Summer Slugger educational program at reds.com/Unity. This special challenge will allow them to learn more about Chuck Harmon, who was the first African American player in Reds history. This Unity page also features initiatives the Reds conduct to promote positive change and inclusiveness and how fans can get involved and make a difference in the community.
Using Jackie Robinson’s nine values (courage, determination, commitment, persistence, integrity, justice, teamwork, citizenship and excellence), the Tigers hosted an art contest to educate and encourage young fans to create an artistic expression that captures the spirit of one or more of the values. The overall winner will receive a $1,500 prize and will have their artwork displayed on digital billboards around the city, including the Fox Theatre Marquee, Little Caesars Arena and Bally Sports Detroit outdoor billboards. The top three winners will be invited to Comerica Park on April 20 and will be recognized in the ballpark when the Tigers acknowledge Jackie Robinson Day at home.
The Tigers have also partnered with RISE to engage in a 30-minute conversation to educate and empower high school students from Metro Detroit on topics of racial equity, social justice and civic engagement. RISE will lead the virtual dialogue featuring Detroit Tigers players Niko Goodrum and Matthew Boyd and coach George Lombard. The conversation aired on the Tigers Facebook Live on April 15.
Each of the nine values — one per inning — were spotlighted on the Target Field videoboards throughout the Twins’ afternoon home game vs. the Boston Red Sox. Prior to the game, Twins players wore the “42 Breaking Barriers” batting practice shirts from The Players Alliance, while Ronnie Allen — a member of the Grammy Award-winning Sounds of Blackness — performed the national anthem.
Additionally, Twins social channels posted graphics highlighting current players and coaches to depict each of Jackie’s Nine Values, Twins mascot T.C. Bear released an educational video via the @TC_00 Twitter handle, and the organization promoted its customized “Jackie Robinson Challenge” through EVERFI’s Summer Slugger Program. Lastly, the Twins’ organization, which is displaying an outfield wall graphic at Target Field with a call to “End Racism,” continues its everyday commitment to supporting an equitable world in which everyone is protected, safe and welcome.
The White Sox featured exclusive content of players sharing in their own words how Jackie Robinson inspires them and what his journey means to them. The content was shown in the park and shared on White Sox social channels.
In celebration of the 101st anniversary of the Negro Leagues in February, the White Sox honored the Chicago American Giants by raising a flag at Guaranteed Rate Field. The flag will remain raised in respect to the inspiring individuals of the Negro Leagues who paved the way for African Americans in baseball, including Jackie Robinson.