On April 15, 1997, a who’s who of dignitaries, which included President Bill Clinton, Acting Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig and Rachel Robinson, gathered at Shea Stadium in New York to be part of a ceremony unlike any other. Never before had a player’s uniform number been retired in perpetuity meaning no one from that day going forward would be assigned No. 42 which was worn by the legendary Jackie Robinson.
It seemed fitting that on the 50th Anniversary of Robinson’s big league debut, the Dodgers were in town to begin a brief two-game series with the Mets, the team that would replace the Brooklyn franchise in the hearts of National League fans after ownership left the borough for Los Angeles.
The distance from where Ebbets Field once stood to Shea is roughly 13 miles, no more than running a half-marathon, and even though a half-century had passed since that historic day in 1947, the Robinson legacy was very much alive and well because 54,047 fans came out thinking it was simply a tribute to the man who would rather retire than play for another team. It was all that, and more.
Baseball continues to invest in the Robinson legacy through a foundation named in his honor. This year alone, MLB announced in a release today that it “will greatly enhance its longstanding philanthropic support by funding 30 four-year [Jackie Robinson Foundation] scholarships – one for each of the 30 MLB Clubs and by contributing $1 million to the Foundation’s Jackie Robinson Museum project.”
The museum will be located at One Hudson Square, 75 Varick Street at the mouth of the Holland Tunnel on Canal Street in Manhattan.
“Jackie Robinson inspired change throughout the National Pastime and society, said Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr. “Major League Baseball and its Clubs have long been proud to support the Jackie Robinson Foundation, recognizing the Foundation’s important role in perpetuating Jackie’s legacy by advancing education. MLB’s expanded commitment reflects a shared desire to inspire and broaden opportunities for young people in our communities to truly reflect Jackie’s vision for our American society and positively impact future generations.”
About the Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholarship Program
With support from donors such as Major League Baseball, the Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholarship Program provides four-years of financial assistance and direct program services annually to 225 highly motivated students attending 100 colleges and universities across the country, and has developed a mentoring curriculum to reach a broad cohort of college students beyond its core “JRF Scholars”. The Foundation’s unique program offers comprehensive support that includes internship and permanent job placement; curriculum and career guidance; one-on-one mentoring; and leadership and practical life skills training. The Jackie Robinson Foundation’s celebrated, hands-on approach has resulted in a consistent, nearly 100% graduation rate throughout its 43-year history.
About the Jackie Robinson Museum
To be located in New York City, the Jackie Robinson Museum will chronicle the baseball legend’s storied athletic career as well as his defining, long-lasting impact across society through state-of-the-art exhibits, precious artifacts, film and other media. The Museum will host programming of all kinds, including symposia, lectures, concerts, and interactive online activities. More than a permanent tribute to Jackie Robinson’s pioneering baseball legacy and role in the Civil Rights Movement, the Museum will serve as an activity-oriented venue, a place for vibrant dialogue on critical social issues and a destination for innovative educational programming. The national Jackie Robinson Museum Legacy Campaign has raised $21 million towards a $24 million construction goal.
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