The Los Angeles Dodgers organization may have departed from their longtime home of Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Fla. in favor of Camelback Ranch, but the Florida property remains an important staple in history. On Tuesday, 67 years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier, Dodgertown will be the site of the first Jackie Robinson Celebration Game. The honor of playing in the game goes to Class A Florida State League teams Lakeland Flying Tigers and Brevard County Manatees.
According to Ken Gurnick of Dodgers.com, admission is $5 and the proceeds will go to a non-profit organization:
Net proceeds of the game will benefit the United Way of Indian River County (admission is $5).
Prior to joining the Dodgers, Robinson played one season in the Negro Baseball League with the Kansas City Monarchs. Robinson hit .414 in 1945 with four doubles, 16 RBIs, and caught the attention of Brooklyn Dodgers president Branch Rickey. Rickey approached Jackson in 1947 with the idea of playing for the Dodgers and being the first African-American Major League baseball player since 1889.
Robinson signed with the Dodgers and immediately had an impact, taking home National League Rookie of the Year honors, hitting .297 with 12 home runs and leading the league with 12 stolen bases. Robinson added to his career accomplishments in 1949, stealing 37 bases, being named the NL’s Most Valuable Player and winning the batting title with a .342 average.
Robinson played 10 seasons with the Dodgers and finished his career a .311 hitter. Playing during a segregated era, Robinson was hit by pitch 72 times over his career, which isn’t an outlandish total. During his first season, Robinson was hit nine times in 151 games played, and his single-season high was 14 in 1952. MLB honored Jackson’s legacy in 1997 when commissioner Bud Selig announced that Jackson’s iconic No. 42 would be retired. At the time, 13 players were still wearing the number and from 2003-2013, famed New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera was the last player to don No. 42.
Along with the honorary game being played at Dodgertown, all MLB players will wear No. 42 on Tuesday, in what is recognized as Jackie Robinson Day.
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