Trailblazer girls inspired by Jackie's legacy in LA

April 15th, 2018

LOS ANGELES -- After a full day of games on the fields of the MLB Youth Academy in Compton on Saturday, the Trailblazer Series moved to a fitting venue -- Dodger Stadium, home of the team that produced baseball's original and most revered trailblazer -- Jackie Robinson.
It's no coincidence that the Trailblazer Series is being held in Los Angeles, or that it falls on the same weekend that Major League Baseball will be celebrating the anniversary of Robinson's first game with the Dodgers.
Girls shine on diamond at Trailblazer Series
On Sunday, exactly 71 years will have passed since Robinson and Major League Baseball first ushered in a new era of desegregated baseball. The efforts to ensure diversity in baseball are ongoing, and the Trailblazer Series is another example of baseball's commitment to be inclusive -- to everyone.
The first order of business for the girls involved in the Trailblazer Series upon their arrival to Dodger Stadium was a visit to the Jackie Robinson statue, which sits in the left field reserve plaza. The 800-pound, eight-foot bronze statue depicting Robinson stealing home was dedicated exactly one year ago, on the 70th anniversary of Robinson's breaking the color barrier.
Below the statue is a phrase Robinson made famous during his life as a civil and human rights activist: "A life is not important except in the impact that it has on other lives."

As a trailblazer, Robinson would undoubtedly be happy with how his legacy is being celebrated in modern times.
On Opening Day, MLB reported that 8.4 percent of Major League players are African-American or African-Canadian/Black, which is the highest percentage on Opening Day active rosters over the last six seasons. Of this group, 70 percent of players are aged 30 or younger, a five percent increase since 2015.
Baseball is making inroads away from the Major League diamond as well. In addition to the Trailblazer Series, MLB and USA Baseball are preparing to launch a groundbreaking new event, specifically designed for the on-field development and scouting of female baseball players.

The Girls Baseball Breakthrough Series (GBBS) will be held May 31-June 4 in historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Fla., and will serve as a scouting showcase for dozens of girls, 17 and under, from around the country. Participants will receive daily instruction in an environment similar to an MLB Spring Training camp.

If the current Trailblazer Series is any indication of how future events will be received, the Breakthrough Series should be a smash hit. The more than 100 Trailblazer girls have been on the go since they arrived to Los Angeles, playing games all day and partaking in a variety of evening activities, including Saturday's field trip to Dodger Stadium.
During a special pregame ceremony, six players -- Yasmeen Aubrey, Grace Larson, Allison St. Michaels, Wigmar A. Rodriguez, Maggie Paulovich and Athena Clendaniel -- represented the group, with first pitch honors going to Paulovich and Clendaniel.
Maybelle Blair and Shirley Burkovich of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League presented the baseballs to the girls, who then threw the ceremonial pitches to Trailblazer coaches Stacy Piagno and Anna Kimbrell.
"It's such an awesome experience to be able to come out to Dodger Stadium with the girls and get some publicity for them and for the sport of women's baseball, and to honor Jackie Robinson," Piagno said. "I'm really excited for the game and I'm excited they had the opportunity to do this."