NEW YORK - Major League Baseball is commemorating the eighth annual Jackie Robinson Day today with the launch of the new ‘IAM42.com’ online campaign, multiple events, and, once again, all players and on-field personnel wearing the number 42.
“Each year, Jackie Robinson Day is an occasion for us to pause and reflect on the game’s proudest and most powerful moment,” said Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig. “Jackie’s legacy is as strong and vibrant as ever throughout Major League Baseball. I am proud that the number 42, which has come to stand for Jackie's courage and grace, will again be worn in honor of our game’s greatest pioneer.”
“Jack loved the game of baseball and the tremendous power it had and still has to bring people together,” said Rachel Robinson, Jackie’s wife and Founder of the Jackie Robinson Foundation. “I believe he would have found Major League Baseball’s decision to perpetually honor his legacy in this way both gratifying and humbling.”
‘IAM42’ is a new digital campaign designed for fans to make a personal connection to the legacy of Baseball Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson through online video sharing and social networking via Twitter and Facebook. IAM42.com features personal video tributes from more than 60 current players and legends to honor the 64th Anniversary of Robinson’s historic moment, including Baseball Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Lou Brock and Andre Dawson; and MLB All-Stars Jason Heyward, Prince Fielder, David Price, Mariano Rivera and David Wright. Launching on Jackie Robinson Day, fans of all ages are encouraged to share their thoughts on the enduring impact of Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier. The site will be updated throughout the year, in the lead-up to the 65th anniversary of Jackie Robinson Day, April 15, 2012. ‘IAM42.com’ is the latest MLB initiative aimed at educating all fans about Jackie Robinson and supporting his enduring legacy, joining Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI); Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life; Diverse Business Partners; and the MLB Urban Youth Academies. IAM42.com is powered by MLB.com, the official Web site of Major League Baseball.
All MLB players, coaches and umpires will once again wear Number 42 and continue the unified, League-wide support of Jackie Robinson Day. Commissioner Selig and MLB have celebrated Robinson’s longstanding legacy by retiring Robinson’s number throughout the League in 1997 and, since 2004, dedicating April 15 as Jackie Robinson Day in his memory. Robinson played his first Major League game at Ebbets Field on April 15, 1947 as a first baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers.
The Reviving Baseball In Inner Cities (RBI) program will host a youth baseball and softball clinic for 250 young boys and girls in Newark, New Jersey, and will feature Sharon Robinson, Jackie’s daughter, MLB Educational Programming Consultant and Vice Chair of the Jackie Robinson Foundation; representatives from the New York Yankees including Manager Joe Girardi and Senior Vice President and General Manager Brian Cashman; Texas Rangers Manager Ron Washington; and MLB Network Analyst Harold Reynolds. The RBI program is the MLB youth initiative designed to provide opportunities to play baseball and softball, to encourage academic success, and to teach the value of teamwork and other important life lessons to underserved young people, ages 5 to 18, from urban communities. Additionally, Baseball Tomorrow Fund (BTF) will be present to unveil the newly constructed indoor practice facility, which is adjacent to a recently renovated field complex that serves as the home fields for the Newark RBI league and the local Little League program. A BTF grant of more than $33,000 provided funding for the purchase of batting cages, pitching tunnels and related equipment for the indoor facility, as well as coaches training clinic expenses.
Sharon Robinson also will be representing MLB in a Brooklyn school visit to announce a first place winner in the 2011 Breaking Barriers Essay Contest, which recognizes students for their efforts to overcome personal barriers using the values exemplified by Jackie Robinson.
The Robinson family will join MLB in a special Jackie Robinson Day celebration at Yankee Stadium, prior to the 7:05 p.m. (ET) game against the Texas Rangers in a nationally televised game carried live by MLB Network. The ceremony will include Rachel and Sharon. Additionally, the historic Tuskegee Airmen will be appearing on-field during pregame ceremonies.
One Number 42 jersey from every 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 academically distinguished minority students with leadership capacity. MLB and the 30 Clubs sponsor more than 60 Jackie Robinson Scholars. 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.
In support of Jackie Robinson Day, MLB Network will air the special Letters From Jackie: The Private Thoughts of Jackie Robinson on Saturday, April 16 at 12:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. ET. The special, which was produced by MLB Productions, 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.
All Clubs playing at home on Friday, April 15 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 that highlights Jackie’s story and nine values will be shown in-stadium. Clubs not playing at home on April 15 will hold Jackie Robinson Day commemorations at their ballparks during another homestand in April.