Major League Baseball today announced plans to commemorate the centennial celebration of the birth of Hall of Famer and Baseball Pioneer Jackie Robinson throughout 2019. League and Club efforts will complement activities led by the Jackie Robinson Foundation, which will include a year-long schedule of events to honor Jackie's legacy in baseball and throughout society. Commemorative activities will begin on January 31st (the centennial of Jackie's birth) and culminate at the Grand Opening of the Jackie Robinson Museum in December 2019.
Initiatives ranging from youth engagement activities in cities connected to Jackie's life, to comprehensive support of the Jackie Robinson Foundation's scholarship & education programs and the future Jackie Robinson Museum, will be among the many efforts initiated by Major League Baseball and Clubs, which have celebrated Jackie Robinson Day in ballparks every April 15th since 2004. These efforts, as well as additional examples involving MLB and Clubs, are scheduled as follows:
NOTE: Additional elements of support toward sustaining the legacy of Jackie Robinson will be announced throughout the year.
MLB will join the Jackie Robinson Foundation, Jackie's wife Rachel Robinson, and their daughter Sharon Robinson in a variety of activities on the centennial of his birth, including the following (all times EST):
• 9:30 a.m. - Visiting three public schools throughout New York City for a special program presentation on the future Jackie Robinson Museum. The schools include Jackie Robinson School, P.S. 15, Queens; Jackie Robinson School P.S. 375, Brooklyn; and P.S. 42, Manhattan.
NOTE: Due to limited space, these visits are NOT open to the public.
• 10:30 a.m. - At the Brooklyn Borough Hall Rotunda, where Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams will posthumously confer the "Key to Brooklyn" on Jackie Robinson. The Key will be presented to the Robinson family, and students from Jackie Robinson Schools in Queens and Brooklyn, respectively, will attend the ceremony.
• 12:00 p.m. - Sharon Robinson participating in a Facebook Live Event with Scholastic, Inc., during which she will discuss the educational and character development benefits of the Breaking Barriers: In Sport, In Life program (a joint effort between MLB, Sharon and Scholastic). She will be joined by Mark Honeyman, a middle school teacher from West Bloomfield, MI who has incorporated the Breaking Barriers program into his classroom for many years.
Parents, students, teachers and the general public can view the Facebook Live event at https://www.facebook.com/Scholastic/.
• 6:30 p.m. - Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr. will join Rachel and Sharon as well as Jackie Robinson Foundation President Della Britton Baeza at the Opening Reception of the "In the Dugout with Jackie Robinson Exhibit" at the Museum of the City of New York. The exhibit will remain open through May 31st, during which time, several panel and fireside discussions will be held to cover topics focusing on social issues, activism and more on Jackie's history.
That evening, MLB Network will air Ken Burns' biographical documentary "Jackie Robinson," a story of Jack Roosevelt Robinson, a sharecropper's son who elevated an entire race and country when he broke Baseball's color barrier in 1947. The film illuminates Robinson's place as a leader and icon of the civil rights movement whose exemplary life and aspirational message of equality continues to inspire generations of Americans. Throughout the day, all MLB Network studio programming will honor Robinson's legacy with features on his life before, during and after his Hall of Fame career, including interviews with the Robinson family, Hall of Famer Hank Aaron, Robinson's former Dodgers teammate Don Newcombe, Hall of Fame inductee Harold Baines, 2006 NL MVP Ryan Howard, and current Major Leaguers Curtis Granderson and CC Sabathia.
During Black History Month, Major League Baseball will launch the first in a series of PLAY BALL (www.PlayBall.org) events located in cities with a connection to Jackie's history. This initial event will be held at the Kansas City Royals MLB Urban Youth Academy on Thursday, February 7th, which is located next to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. Prior to signing with the Dodgers organization, Jackie was an All-Star player for the Kansas City Monarchs in 1945. Additional PLAY BALL events will be held in Montreal (March), where Jackie played for the Montreal Royals, the Dodgers farm team in 1946, and Pasadena (September), where Jackie and his family grew up. The PLAY BALL initiative is baseball's collective effort to encourage young people and communities to engage in baseball- or softball-related activities, including formal leagues, special events and casual forms of play. PLAY BALL events have become MLB's signature youth engagement activity during the professional and amateur baseball and softball calendar, and demonstrate the positive way the game can serve as an outlet for physical activity, fun with friends, and learning how to play the sport at its most basic levels.
The Kansas City PLAY BALL event will be held in connection to a special visit by Sharon Robinson to the Urban Youth Academy on behalf of the Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life program. Each year, Sharon visits MLB Youth Academies to speak to young participants about her father and the Breaking Barriers program, which educates children on the values demonstrated by Jackie in facing the many challenges associated with breaking Baseball's color barrier. That week, MLB and Scholastic will share more details about the 2019 program.
On Tuesday, February 5th, Jackie's and Rachel's alma mater, UCLA, will host a celebration jazz concert at Royce Hall on the university's campus. Four-time World Series Champion and Latino GRAMMY nominee Bernie Williams is part of the line-up of performers that also includes ten-time GRAMMY Award winner Arturo Sandoval, and GRAMMY Award nominee Dave Koz, five-time GRAMMY Award winning vocalist Yolanda Adams and Nicole Beharie, who played Rachel Robinson in the movie 42. The concert will not only honor Jackie's groundbreaking achievements in sports, but also his phenomenal strides in human and civil rights, his appreciation of American music and the arts, and his unwavering devotion to his family. Special guests, such as Sharon Robinson and UCLA alumnus and Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, will take the stage to honor Robinson, and UCLA will also host other tributes, such as an alumni baseball game, a service project, and a panel discussion on athletes and activism.
On March 3rd and 4th, MLB will participate in the Jackie Robinson Foundation's annual Scholar and alumni conference, with MLB employees serving on career panels, joining a community service effort to benefit Rise Against Hunger, and hosting a luncheon for 30 JRF Scholars supported by MLB and its Clubs at MLB Network's studios in Secaucus, New Jersey. That evening, more than 1,200 guests and supporters will attend JRF's Annual Robie Awards Dinner at the New York Marriott Marquis.
As has been tradition each April 15th since 2004, MLB and Clubs will commemorate Jackie Robinson Day at ballparks throughout the league with a special element of on-field tributes for Jackie's centennial celebration. Once again, all players and on-field personnel will wear Jackie's iconic Number '42.' Additional details for on-field uniform elements and other ceremonial and community activities will be announced at a later date.
Prior to Jackie Robinson Day, MLB and USA Baseball will host the third annual "Trailblazer Series" at the Kansas City Royal MLB Urban Youth Academy. Approximately 100 girls, ages 11-13, will participate in the three-day tournament designed to both introduce and develop young women in the game of baseball.
MLB and Scholastic will announce all 10 winners of the Breaking Barriers: In Sport, In Life essay contest, which honors the legacy of Jackie Robinson. The contest recognizes five students each from two groups (Grades 4-6 and Grades 7-9) who have overcome barriers in their own lives using the example set forth by Jackie Robinson. The Grand Prize winner from each of the two categories will win a trip to the 2019 MLB All-Star Game (Grades 4-6) and World Series (Grades 7-9), respectively. Additionally, in the spirit of the centennial celebration, 100 teachers will receive $100 gift cards for answering the Scholastic Breaking Barriers assessment tool survey, courtesy of the MLB-MLBPA Youth Development Foundation
On April 11th (in New York) and April 14th (in Los Angeles), JRF will present program previews of the future Jackie Robinson Museum.
The Jackie Robinson Foundation's traveling exhibit, promoting the opening of the Jackie Robinson Museum in December, will be part of the MLB All- Star Week festivities in Cleveland, Ohio, from July 5th to July 9th, and will be featured separately at other venues and conferences during July and August.
MLB-LICENSED VIDEO GAMES
Three MLB officially-licensed videos games - MLB The Show 19, Home Run Derby mobile and RBI Baseball 19 - will celebrate Jackie this year, with more specific details to be announced.
• Arizona Diamondbacks - On April 13th, the D-backs will name their 42nd Diamonds Back Youth Baseball Field built in partnership with APS as Jackie Robinson Field. The field dedication and celebration will be the centerpiece of a weekend celebration of baseball as part of their "PLAY BALL WEEKEND" activation.
• Atlanta Braves - The Braves will invite the Cairo, Georgia Boys & Girls Club - the birthplace of Jackie - to a home game when the team faces the New York Mets April 12th-14th and will donate all proceeds raised from the 50/50 Raffle on April 16th to the Club. The Braves also will host their annual Jackie Robinson Invitational, featuring baseball and softball teams, in Atlanta on April 13th and 14th. Additionally, the organization will hold a high school baseball game between two Atlanta Public Schools at SunTrust Park on Monday, April 15th, with both teams wearing number 42. Later in the spring, the Braves will unveil a one of a kind Jackie life-sized figurine that will be featured permanently at SunTrust Park.
• Boston Red Sox - During their annual Baseball Winter Weekend fan festival on January 19th, the Red Sox hosted a panel discussion on the life and legacy of Jackie Robinson featuring Sharon Robinson, Red Sox Manager Alex Cora, Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez, and former Red Sox Outfielder Tommy Harper. Also joining the panel were two Jackie Robinson Scholars who both currently work in the Red Sox front office, Red Sox Vice President and Club Counsel Elaine Steward and Red Sox Foundation Executive Director Bekah Salwasser. The hour-long panel moderated by MLB Network Analyst Harold Reynolds included a vibrant discussion that touched on the many ways Robinson's legacy continues to have an impact today.
• Chicago White Sox - From January 31 through March 18, 2019, the Chicago White Sox will run their fourth annual Jackie Robinson Video Contest. The contest is an opportunity for students in grades six to 12 to showcase their creativity while honoring a baseball player who has helped pave the way for players from all backgrounds in baseball. Videos will be reviewed by White Sox great Harold Baines, who was recently elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame and is also a member of the White Sox front office. The winner(s) will be recognized during the pregame ceremony of the Jackie Robinson Day game at Guaranteed Rate Field on April 15, 2019. The grand prize winner will receive a Chicago White Sox jersey and the opportunity to throw the first pitch, have his or her video played on the scoreboard, as well as receive additional Chicago White Sox promotional items and a $75 Chicago Sports Depot gift card.
• Cincinnati Reds - In April, the P&G MLB Cincinnati Reds Youth Academy will host the fourth annual Jackie Robinson Showcase featuring varsity baseball and softball teams from Cincinnati Public Schools. For the second consecutive year, the Reds Community Fund will underwrite custom '42' jerseys for all the teams in their school colors.
• Los Angeles Dodgers - In celebration of the centennial of Jackie's birth, the Dodgers will partner with "Worthy of Love" to host 300 children on Jan. 31st from 6-9 pm (PT) at Dodger Stadium. Activities include singing Happy Birthday at the Jackie Robinson statue, DJ/Dance, photo booth, balloon artist, face paint, petting zoo. Worthy of Love is a nonprofit organization that hosts monthly birthday parties for children living in the Union Rescue Mission in Downtown Los Angeles. The Dodgers also will launch a Jackie Robinson educational tour, which will include a visit to the pop-up museum dedicated to Robinson at Dodger Stadium and focus on the Dodgers' storied history of diversity. The limited-time-only tour will be open to the public on weekends for the month of February.
• Minnesota Twins - The Minnesota Twins will continue their year-round "Reading is Powerful" program in 2019. Divided into three sections (spring, summer and fall), the Twins organization will reach fourth and fifth grade students in 30 elementary schools this year (reaching approximately 4,000 kids). Twins front office staff will teach fourth-grade students about the legacy and immeasurable impact of Jackie Robinson through: the reading of a book, a short documentary and a discussion with trivia questions and prizes (fifth-grade students are taught about Roberto Clemente). When the Twins host the Blue Jays for Jackie Robinson Day, the Twins will invite select kids, nominated by their teachers as embodying Jackie Robinson's Nine Values, to take part in on-field ceremonies and be recognized during the game. Additionally, all students who take part in the "Reading is Powerful" program will receive tickets for themselves and their parents to watch a Twins game at Target Field.
• Oakland Athletics - In April, the A's will host community celebrations in Oakland and a PLAY BALL event for local youth baseball and softball players.
• Texas Rangers - Texas Rangers will celebrate Jackie Robinson Day on April 15th in a pregame ceremony incorporating athletes from the Texas Rangers Youth Academy and also JRF scholars. Additionally, Rangers RBI regional teams will wear Rangers caps with the "42" logo on the cap in tournaments this year.
ABOUT THE JACKIE ROBINSON FOUNDATION
For 45 years, the Jackie Robinson Foundation has continued Robinson's commitment to equal opportunity by addressing the achievement gap in higher education, providing generous scholarship grants and comprehensive support services to minority students attending colleges throughout the country. Expanding its mission of education and Robinson's rich legacy, the Foundation will open the Jackie Robinson Museum in New York City in December 2019 to chronicle Robinson's storied athletic career and his long-lasting impact across society. For more information, visit www.JackieRobinson.org.
In December 2018, MLB and Clubs raised funds through the 2018 Winter Meetings Charity Auction to benefit the Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholars program for a student pursuing an undergraduate degree in sports administration/management.
In 2016, MLB increased its financial commitment to the Jackie Robinson Foundation and expanded their programmatic partnership. MLB greatly enhanced its longstanding philanthropic support by funding 30 four-year JRF scholarships - one for each of the 30 MLB Clubs and by contributing $1 million to the Foundation's Jackie Robinson Museum project. Additionally, MLB and JRF have engaged JRF Scholars to mentor young people in MLB's youth and community partnership programs, including Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI), MLB Youth Academies and MLB-supported Boys & Girls Clubs of America programs. JRF Scholars have mentored participants in these various youth programs, encouraging their young mentees to embrace educational opportunities and joined them in extra-curricular activities, such as attending MLB games and special events with the League's support.
Historically, Major League Baseball and its Clubs have contributed nearly $20 million to the Jackie Robinson Foundation for its scholarship program and the Jackie Robinson Museum.
Please visit www.JackieRobinson.org for more about the Jackie Robinson Centennial Celebration.