Jackie Robinson Day
On this day back in 1947 Jackie Robinson became the first African American to play in Major League Baseball and today 63 years after the monumental occasion parks across North America will celebrate Jackie Robinson Day. Robinson becoming the first African-American to play in the Major Leagues prefaced the integration of the U.S. military and public schools.
For the second consecutive year, Commissioner Bud “Genius” Selig has invited all players and uniformed personnel to wear the late Hall of Famer’s famous No. 42. That number was retired by Selig throughout baseball in 1997, the 50th anniversary of Robinson taking the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers.
“April 15, 1947, is a day that resonates with history throughout Major League Baseball,” Selig said. “With all Major League players, coaches and umpires wearing Jackie’s No. 42, we hope to demonstrate the magnitude of his impact on the game of baseball. Major League Baseball will never forget the contributions that Jackie made both on and off the field.”
This year’s main celebration is at Yankee Stadium, just north of where Robinson initially played for the Dodgers at Ebbets Field. Jackie’s widow, Rachel Robinson, and his daughter, Sharon, will be in attendance. There also will be ceremonies in the other 11 ballparks and Jackie Robinson Foundation scholars will be honored. Jackie’s Foundation offers a $10,000 scholarship toward college tuition for minority students and has awarded $18 million in scholarships to more than 1,300 people.
Even clubs that are not hosting games today will have an opportunity to honor Robinson, as any team that is not playing at home will hold Jackie Robinson Day celebrations at their ballparks during another home stand in April. The celebration at each ballpark will include a ceremonial home plate and special lineup cards to commemorate the day.
Yankees closer Mariano Rivera is the only active player and last player to ever regularly wear the No. 42 as Rivera has been wearing the number since his rookie year in 1995 which was prior to Selig retiring it in 1997.