April 15 no longer means it’s just another awful tax day…it’s also Jackie Robinson Day in baseball and something that should be in the thoughts of the rest of our society as well. Great timing (and not by coincidence of course) that the movie “42” has just been released and I’m hearing excellent reviews so this is one flick that I am actually looking forward to seeing.
It’s been six years since the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball and it was in 2007 that my station KFWB was in the final year of being the Dodgers flagship station. So we were fortunate to be involved in the ceremonies at the Ravine that day when Jackie’s widow Rachel and her family were celebrated in the event.
Mrs. Robinson did 3 interviews that day…one during the ESPN telecast, one between innings of our KFWB broadcast, and the other with little ‘ol me in the walkway behind the studio where another legendary Brooklyn Dodger does his work–Vin Scully. The following is our brief sitdown chat which included Rachel’s recollection of the first day that Jack played for the Dodgers in Ebbett’s Field…
After our brief chat I told Mrs. Robinson and her foundation rep about my personal collection of U.S. Postal first day covers which includes dozens with Jackie’s likeness on them after his commerative stamp was issued back in 1982. Rachel had never seen most of what was in my collection and she liked them so much that she asked if I would be ok with having them displayed in the proposed Jackie Robinson museum in New York City? What do you think my answer to that was??? OF COURSE I WOULD!!! I’m still waiting for that museum to become a reality to this day as my Robinson FDC’s are patiently awaiting that moment in the J.R. foundation’s offices.
I also spoke with former Brooklyn Dodger Cy Young award winning pitcher Don Newcombe that day and we reminisced about his earlier days including the first game that Jackie ever played in…and it surprised me that Newk was in Ebbett’s Field to see it at the age of 19…
Monday night the Dodgers host the Padres in their first get together since last week’s bench-emptying debacle in San Diego. But pregame will be all about Jackie Robinson day with Rachel and her family in town to be a part of the ceremonies. Here is the scheduled itinerary as sent by the Dodgers in their media release:
All auto and stadium gates will open early at 4:40 p.m. Pre-game ceremonies will begin at 6:50 p.m. with first pitch at 7:10.
Dodger Stadium will be decorated with prominently placed 42 logos on the pitching mound, dugout, near the foul pole and baselines. There will also be Jackie Robinson Day jeweled bases and lineup cards and a special tribute video that will be shown in-stadium. The Dodgers’ uniformed personnel will all wear number 42. The Dodgers will be joined by Jackie’s wife Rachel, Sharon and Jackie’s son David Robinson. The Dodgers will also pay tribute to Dodger Hall of Fame catcher and three-time NL MVP Award winner Roy Campanella and Dodger Special Advisor to the Chairman, 1956 NL MVP and Cy Young Award Winner Don Newcombe.
The 17-member choir of Dodger owner Earvin “Magic” Johnson’s church home, West Angeles Church of God In Christ, will sing the national anthem. Kelley Jakle, the great-granddaughter of Branch Rickey, Brooklyn Dodgers’ General Manager who signed Jackie Robinson, will sing “God Bless America.” The ceremonial first pitch will be thrown by Academy Award® nominee Harrison Ford who stars in Warner Bros. Pictures “42” as Brooklyn Dodgers’ GM Branch Rickey. Sharon Robinson will officially start the game with “It’s Time for Dodger Baseball!”
Hopefully I’ll get the chance to say hello to Rachel again but even if not and stealing a line from a great song—Here’s to you Mrs. Robinson, we appreciate you more than you will ever know. Thanks for the sacrifices and contributions to society that will be felt forever and welcome back to L.A.!