By Jordan Rodriguez
Baseball is one of the oldest sports in America’s history. It always consisted of the same rules and the same type of players until April 15, 1947 when Jackie Robinson, at age 28, debuted his first major league game for the Brooklyn Dodgers, breaking the color barrier in major league baseball. He was the first African American in the majors, and by the end of the 1947 season he was named the Rookie of the Year. By the end of his entire career, he was a six time all star, a World Series winner in 1955, and the first ballot Hall of Famer in 1962.
With all that Jackie Robinson did for baseball and that community he had been celebrated for his courage since 2004 on the day he played his first game in the majors. The commissioner at the time, Doug Selig, retired his jersey number, number 42. By 2009, all teams within the major leagues would wear his number on Jackie Robinson Day. With each sale of a 42 logo baseball cap, it would get donated to the Jackie Robinson foundation which is a national organization founded by his wife in 1973 to conserve his legacy and his achievements, it provides college and graduate school scholarships for motivated students of color. Since the introduction of Jackie Robinson Day, the MLB and “30 clubs have contributed approximately $20 million to the foundation,” as reported by Newsweek.
The Player Alliance is a non-profit organization founded by present and former MLB players. They seek to bridge the gap of racial inequality and improve the representation of black Americans in baseball. “On April 15, we honor Jackie Robinsonas the first player to break the color barrier, a reminder there is still much work to be done in our game.” This was said by the president of the Player Alliance, Curtis Granderson. Those in the organization on the day of Jackie Robinson Day donated either their full or partial game day salaries, they raised over 1 million dollars last year. The organization consists of 143 current and former players that have raised 41.7 million dollars so far that have been donated to black communities. They want to change the diversity through baseball, be inclusive within baseball and the community, and provide great opportunities in black communities on and off the field.
The MLB and Major League Players Association have given 10 million dollars to fund innovative programs to help improve the representation of blacks in all levels of baseball. This will be delivered through 2024 annually as joint grants. The program’s missions are to offer player-led mentor ships, provide grants, scholarships and community service to various segments of the black community, increase participation of black youth and young adults through equipment donations, special tournaments, clinics and funding individual leagues, and many more. What all these organizations and all the people working within them all have in common is that they are all fighting for the same cause, the same cause that Jackie Robinson started in 1947. It may have been a long time ago but baseball hasn’t given up and wants to do more to break down racial inequality and injustice in sports. This is a legacy that will live on forever each year we celebrate Jackie Robinson Day.
Image Source: The Players’ Alliance