Major League Baseball celebrated Jackie Robinson Day Friday, four months later than usual because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Robinson grew up in Pasadena in a house on Pepper Street. He broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball in 1947. Before that, he was a standout athlete at John Muir High School and UCLA.
He and his brother Mack battled racism in Pasadena and helped desegregate the pool at Brookside Park. They are remembered here in part by the Robinson Memorial, two massive busts of the brothers installed opposite Pasadena City Hall.
Jackie Robinson Day is customarily held on April 15, marking the anniversary of his breaking baseball’s color line in 1947. Because there were no games played on April 15, Jackie Robinson Day was held on Aug. 28, the anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
Robinson, his wife and children were among the more than 200,000 people in attendance for the demonstration, which is best remembered for Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech and led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965.
After attending the march, Robinson wrote, “I’ve never been so proud to be a Negro. I’ve never been so proud to be an American.”
Aug. 28 is also the anniversary of Robinson’s three-hour meeting with Brooklyn Dodgers President Branch Rickey at the team’s office in 1945 which led to his signing with the Montreal Royals, the Dodgers’ International League affiliate, later that year.
For the 12th consecutive year on Jackie Robinson Day, all players and other on-field personnel wore Robinson’s No. 42. The number 42 was retired throughout Major League Baseball in 1997 on the 50th anniversary of his debut with the Dodgers.
The Jackie Robinson Day logo was included on caps worn by on-field personnel, base jewels and official dugout lineup cards.
A video presentation was played on Angel Stadium’s scoreboards before the introduction of the starting lineups for the Los Angeles Angels-Seattle Mariners game.
The jerseys worn by the Angels in their 3-2 victory will be auctioned online with net proceeds going to the Angels Baseball Foundation to benefit community-related youth programs throughout the region.
The Los Angeles Dodgers, who traditionally play a home game on Jackie Robinson Day, lost to the Texas Rangers, 6-2, in Arlington, Texas.
Dodger and Ranger players and coaches collaborated on a video honoring Robinson’s legacy that was shown on Globe Life Field’s video boards before the game.
The DoppelRangers cutouts featured Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholars and Rangers MLB Youth Academy youngsters.
The foundation was founded by Robinson’s widow Rachel Robinson in 1973, the year following Jackie Robinson’s death at the age of 53. It provides four-year college scholarships to disadvantaged students of color.
An online auction of the jerseys worn by the Dodgers will begin Sept. 10.
Proceeds will benefit the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit organization that provides legal representation to people claiming to be illegally convicted, unfairly sentenced or abused in state jails and prisons, challenges the death penalty and excessive punishment and provides re-entry assistance to formerly incarcerated people.
Dodger outfielder Mookie Betts narrated MLB’s 90-second Jackie Robinson Day video, “4 Us 2 Remember” which celebrates Robinson’s life and legacy away from the field, combining words from his 1972 autobiography, “I Never Had It Made,” and insights his daughter, Sharon, with archival footage and photos from Robinson’s life and visuals from peaceful protests in response to George Floyd’s death.
The Dodgers celebrated Robinson’s life and legacy with online programs this week — a conversation with first base coach George Lombard, sharing his family history of civil rights activism, and a panel discussion for students attending historically Black colleges and universities to on the various career paths within baseball.