April and May is the time of the year when the spring season is in full effect. Flowers are blooming, there’s warmth of sun rays and of course America’s pastime, baseball.
The 2017 Major League Baseball season is now in full swing and this season is a historical one. April 15th of this year marked the 70th anniversary of Jackie Robinson becoming the first African – American to break the color barrier into the majors for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. 20 years ago to the date, then MLB Commissioner Bud Selig retired Jackie Robinson’s jersey, #42 and declared it “Jackie Robinson Day” and since 2009, every player, manager, coach and umpire in the league wears the No.42 to celebrate Robinson.
This year, Robinson was forever immortalized in a ceremony unveiling a 77-inch, 700 pound bronze statue outside of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ stadium. The statue is the depiction of Robinson’s legendary home plate steal against the New York Yankees. Fans in attendance were able to bring a piece of history home with them, receiving replicas of the statue. With the revealing of the amazing figure, his daughter, Sharon Robinson, who described it as powerful and inspirational, it was wonderful, to share with mom [Rachel].”
Jackie’s widow, Rachel Robinson, is now 94. Though she hasn’t been in the best of health, she summoned her strength, and participated in the honoring of her late husband during the statue dedication. She also received a standing ovation from the Dodger Stadium crowd. She shared stories during the ceremony with Frank Robinson, baseball’s first black manager, former LA Dodgers legendary Play by Play announcer Vin Scully, and Jackie’s former teammates Don Newcombe, Tom Lasorda and Sandy Koufax known to many Baseball fans and historians as the “Brooklyn’s Boys of Summer.” The Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, the first Black manager in its franchise history, presented Mrs. Robinson with framed picture of the sculpture.
Though Jackie retired before the Dodgers moved to LA from Brooklyn, Dodgers Co-owner Magic Johnson recalled that team chairman Mark Walter promised Mrs. Robinson that the new owners would install statue of her Hall of Fame husband five years ago, and they delivered. Johnson said, “I’m more happy because of his statue than the two I’ve got.” The statue includes an iconic quote from Jackie Robinson saying “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives,” thus empowering future generations to learn about Robinson, embrace his legacy and the courage it takes to change society as his son, David Robinson puts it.
In all, April 15th is a day that has become the most important day on the baseball calendar and one of the most important dates in the sports calendar by far. It gives sports fans throughout the world an opportunity to celebrate a man, who at one point players were going to boycott against if he were to play in the Major Leagues. We now get the chance to commemorate him and recognize him as a key figure not only in baseball, but also American sports. We thank you Jackie Robinson for your courage. Your legacy is forever cemented.
BY: Jamal Clarke
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