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Dodgers celebrate Jackie Robinson Day with win over Reds

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Dodgers joined the rest of Major League Baseball in marking the 72nd anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking baseball’s color line April 15.

Robinson’s widow Rachel, daughter Sharon and son David threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the game at Dodger Stadium against the Cincinnati Reds, which saw the Dodgers win, 4-3, on a two-run walk-off home run by Joc Pederson in the ninth inning.

Pregame ceremonies also included a performance by singer/songwriter Aloe Blacc and an appearance by 14-time Grammy-winning musician Herbie Hancock.

The Dodgers recognized 42 current and former Jackie Robinson Foundation scholars (six of whom are current Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation scholars), while students from Robinson’s elementary, middle and high schools — Pasadena’s Cleveland Elementary School, Washington Middle School and John Muir High School — also were recognized with pregame honors.

The foundation was founded by Rachel Robinson in 1973, the year following Jackie Robinson’s death at the age of 53. It provides four-year college scholarships to disadvantaged students of color.

Major League Baseball has marked the anniversary of Robinson’s breaking baseball’s color line by holding Jackie Robinson Day each year since 2004.

For the 11th consecutive year, all players and other on-field personnel will wear Robinson’s No. 42. The number 42 was retired throughout Major League Baseball in 1997, on the 50th anniversary of Robinson’s April 15, 1947, debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Robinson’s successful integration of Major League Baseball is credited with helping change Americans’ attitudes toward blacks and being a catalyst toward later civil rights advances.

“I’ve often said that baseball’s proudest moment and its most powerful social statement came when Jackie Robinson first set foot on a Major League Baseball field,” then-MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said in 2004 in connection with Major League Baseball’s first league wide Jackie Robinson Day.

The Dodgers also announced that Jackie Robinson Stadium in Compton will be refurbished in a partnership involving the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation and the charitable organization operated by Dodger pitching star Clayton Kershaw and his wife Ellen.

The partnership involving Kershaw’s Challenge also will include the construction of a new “Field 42” at Gonzales Park, site of Jackie Robinson Stadium.

Construction will begin later this year on the 52nd and 53rd Dodgers Dreamfields, continuing the Dodgers Foundation’s commitment to build 75 Dodgers Dreamfields by 2033, the 75th anniversary of the team’s move to Los Angeles.

The renovation of Jackie Robinson Stadium will include upgrades to the field, outfield fence, dugouts, scoreboard, backstop, lighting, bathrooms/locker room facilities and spectator viewing areas.

The new Field 42 will serve youth baseball and softball players ages 5-12. It will include a large LED scoreboard, windscreens on the outfield wall and an enclosed batting cage and a new irrigation and watering system to ensure that the field stays ready for play well into the future.

The announcement was made in connection with Jackie Robinson Day.

“Jackie Robinson Day is always a special day in Los Angeles, and it’s hard to think of a better way to honor his legacy and celebrate his centennial birthday than by increasing access to youth baseball and softball in Compton,” said Nichol Whiteman, the foundation’s CEO.

The Kershaws also assisted in the construction of the universally accessible field at Baldwin Hills Recreation Center and the field at Algin Sutton Recreation Center in South Los Angeles.

A sweepstakes will be held to raise funds for the project.

The winner will join Kershaw in a game of catch on the field at Dodger Stadium, go on a private exclusive clubhouse tour, receive an autographed baseball from Kershaw, watch Dodgers batting practice, receive two Lexus Dugout Club tickets, have a private car service to and from Dodger Stadium and be flown out to Los Angeles for a two-night stay in a four-star hotel.

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From City News Service