LOS ANGELES -- Regardless of how long the Dodgers have existed as a franchise, or how many championships they have won, or how many All-Stars and Cy Young Award winners they employ, the most important figure in franchise history will never change.Jackie Robinson, who made history in 1947 as the
LOS ANGELES -- Regardless of how long the Dodgers have existed as a franchise, or how many championships they have won, or how many All-Stars and Cy Young Award winners they employ, the most important figure in franchise history will never change.
Jackie Robinson, who made history in 1947 as the first African-American to play Major League Baseball, will continue to represent the Dodgers' proudest moment. He was a pioneer, a civil rights activist and a Hall of Famer.
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The same applies to his widow, Rachel Robinson, who has spent the past four-plus decades carrying on her late husband's legacy.
So it was only fitting that Mrs. Robinson, who in July received the Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award from the Baseball Hall of Fame, threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the first Fall Classic game at Dodger Stadium in nearly three decades on Tuesday, a game that resulted in a 3-1 Dodgers win and 1-0 World Series lead. Sadly, this day also marked the 45th anniversary of Jackie's passing.
Robinson was joined on the field by her daughter, Sharon, and son, David.
"Mom, David and I were incredibly honored to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before World Series Game 1 at Dodger Stadium," Sharon Robinson said. "We are thrilled that the Dodgers are in the Series. We want to thank the fans for such a warm welcome.
"It is an emotional night for us, given the anniversary of Dad's passing. So proud of Mom."
Immediately following the death of her husband in 1972, Rachel Robinson took over her husband's dedication to establishing equality and opportunity for young people, incorporating the Jackie Robinson Development Corporation, which was founded to build and manage housing for people of moderate and low incomes.
The following year, she created the Jackie Robinson Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide college scholarships and leadership training.
Three of this year's scholarship recipients, students at UCLA, caught the ceremonial first pitches thrown by the Robinson family.
The ceremony prior to the World Series presented by YouTube TV also included the presentation of the colors by a joint color guard made up of all five branches of the United States military, and a flyover conducted by an F-15C Eagle from the California Air National Guard's 144th Fighter Wing.
The official game ball was delivered by Boys & Girls Clubs of American National Youth of the Year Carlos Polanco, 18, from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Clifton, N.J.. Polanco, a freshman at Dartmouth College, was joined by Boys & Girls Clubs of American Alumni Hall of Famer Mario Lopez.
The anthem was performed by gospel singer Keith Williams Jr., who is no stranger to singing at Dodger Stadium. He's best known for the high notes he hits at the end of the anthem, causing a stir among the thousands of Dodger faithful.
"I sing this note on Sunday mornings," Williams said. "God said, 'Sing that note right there.' And I just started singing it."
The ceremony ended in true Hollywood fashion. Three actors -- George Lopez, Ken Jeong and Rob Lowe -- waved giant Dodger flags as they ran atop the dugouts, and the brother of Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson, Champ, finished the event by excitedly yelling to the crowd, "It's time for Dodger baseball. Play ball!"
Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.