Honor First Black Major Leaguer
To honor the enduring impact of Jackie Robinson and his legacy,
Major League Baseball has established April 15 as "Jackie
Robinson Day" throughout the Major Leagues, it was announced
Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig made the announcement
with Sharon Robinson, daughter of Rachel and Jackie Robinson,
and former National League President Leonard C. Coleman, the Chairman
of the Jackie Robinson Foundation.
The announcement further honors Robinson's legacy by establishing
April 15 as a day each year when every Major League Baseball Club
will recognize the important social contributions Robinson made
to our country. Jackie Robinson Day is one of the first programs
to result from The Commissioner's Initiative: Major League
Baseball in the 21st Century. The Commissioner's Initiative,
which was formed last year, has been charged with examining the
current state of Major League Baseball and determining ways to
improve it for the fans.
"I have often stated that baseball's proudest moment and
its most powerful social statement came on April 15, 1947 when
Jackie Robinson first set foot on a Major League Baseball field,"
"On that day, Jackie brought down the color barrier and ushered
in the era in which baseball became the true national pastime.
Fifty years after that historic event, in April 1997, I was proud
to join Rachel Robinson and President Bill Clinton at Shea Stadium
to honor Jackie by retiring his uniform number 42 in perpetuity.
By establishing April 15 as 'Jackie Robinson Day' throughout Major
League Baseball, we are further ensuring that the incredible contributions
and sacrifices he made -- for baseball and society -- will not
"On behalf of our family and the Jackie Robinson Foundation,
I would like to extend my thanks to Major League Baseball for
creating an event that ensures Jackie's legacy will continue to
live on in the hearts and minds of each new generation of Major
League Baseball players and fans," said Rachel Robinson,
wife of Jackie Robinson and Founder of the Jackie Robinson Foundation.
"April 15, 1947 was a day of great significance, not only
for Major League Baseball, but in the fight for equality in this
country. It is only fitting that the anniversary of this groundbreaking
event should become a day for celebration and reflection at Major
On April 15, 1947, Robinson became the first African American
player in Major League Baseball, shattering a barrier that had
kept players of color from playing in the Major Leagues for more
than half a century. Robinson's courageous act opened the door
for others, and by the late 1950s every Major League Baseball
team had players of African and/or Latin descent. In honor of
the 50th Anniversary of Robinson breaking the Major League color
barrier, Robinson's uniform number 42 was retired throughout the
As part of Jackie Robinson Day 2004, special pre-game ceremonies
are being planned for each ballpark hosting a game on April 15.
Jackie Robinson Foundation scholars will throw out the ceremonial
first pitch prior to each game. Other details about Jackie Robinson
Day events -- including a national celebration planned for Shea
Stadium in New York that will air on MLB rightsholder TBS -- will
be announced later this month.
Founded in 1973 by Rachel Robinson, The Jackie Robinson Foundation
is a public, not-for-profit, national organization that awards
four-year college scholarships to academically gifted students
of color with financial need. Jackie Robinson scholars also participate
in the Foundation's comprehensive support system that includes
leadership development, mentoring programs and career counseling.
The graduation rate among Jackie Robinson scholars is 92 percent.
Major League Baseball supports scholarships to select Jackie Robinson/Major
League Baseball Scholars and contributes to the Jackie Robinson
Foundation scholarship endowment campaign. (http://www.jackierobinson.org)
In addition to its support of The Jackie Robinson Foundation,
Major League Baseball operates and/or supports a number of other
youth programs focused on game development and educational initiatives,
including: Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life, Reviving Baseball
in Inner Cities (RBI), the Major League Baseball Urban Youth Initiative
and Boys and Girls Clubs of America.