It has been 68 years since Jackie Robinson changed the course of American history and his legacy still continues to live on. On April 15, Robinson’s team the Los Angeles Dodgers honored the baseball legend by celebrating his special day simultaneously with the annual Civil Rights Game.
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Before the game, Major League Baseball held a pre-game ceremony where the sports organization recognized noble individuals who have significantly contributed to the Civil Rights movement which Robinson stood for.
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Basketball legend and Dodgers part-owner Magic Johnson was awarded the Beacon of Hope Award. Civil Rights and social justice activist Dolores Huerta was presented with the Beacon of Life Award and lastly, baseball Hall of Famer Frank Robinson was also honored for being the first African-American manager in the big leagues.
In the said ceremony, the three awardees spoke about their admiration for the late baseball legend. Johnson claimed that if it wasn’t for Jackie, he wouldn’t be a part-owner of the Dodgers.
“Changing baseball, changing society, changing the world. He’s still here; his presence, his legacy,” Johnson said.
Huerta also expressed her respects for Jackie saying, “When people ask me, ‘Why are you a Dodger fan?’ I say, ‘Because of Jackie Robinson.'” “He allowed one black kid from Oakland, California to realize a dream,” Frank Robinson related about Jackie Robinson.
“And that was to play Major League Baseball.” Another highlight of the pre-game ceremony was the appearance of Robinson’s 92-year-old widow, Rachel Robinson. Baseball authorities and players “highly revere” the baseball legend’s widow because of her historical role as Robinson’s partner and for her notable work with the Jackie Robinson Foundation.
Escorted unto the field by another baseball legend Sandy Koufax, Mrs. Robinson gave a talk about her memories when her husband broke the racial barrier of Major League Baseball by becoming the first African-American major league player.
“… It was more exciting than stressful, because it was an opportunity. I knew that he was up to meeting the challenge, and he knew he was up to meeting the challenge,” she said. To commemorate Robinson, the Dodgers also announced their plans to erect a statue of Robinson on their stadium grounds. They also wore special jerseys that indicated the baseball player’s jersey number 42.
While America celebrated Jackie Robinson Day on Earth, astronaut Terry Virts honored the baseball legend in outer space. Inside the International Space Station, Virts donned a Dodgers jersey with Robinson’s number 42.