April 15 is one of Major League Baseball’s banner days as they celebrate Jackie Robinson Day — the anniversary in which the Hall of Famer broke the league’s color barrier in 1947 with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Annual tributes normally include pregame ceremonies and all teams wearing the No. 42, which was retired across the league on the 50th anniversary of Robinson’s debut in 1997.
But with baseball suspended indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic, MLB has decided to take its celebrations virtually, allowing baseball fans to observe the day in the best way possible given the circumstances.
“All Jackie Robinson Day activities will be virtual in nature, centering on social media and online platforms to underscore the importance of staying safe and healthy at home,” MLB released in a statement on Tuesday. “Designed to engage and educate fans about Robinson’s enduring legacy, efforts will incorporate MLB partners, MLB Clubs, Major League players, and youth baseball & softball players.”
By taking stepping onto the diamond at Ebbets Field 73 years ago, Robinson became the first African American to participate in a regular-season Major League Baseball game since Moses Fleetwood Walker of the Toledo Blue Stockings in 1884, whose presence prompted the notorious “gentlemen’s agreement,” barring black ballplayers from the majors.
Under immense pressure, Robinson became a star with the Dodgers. In 10 MLB seasons, he was a six-time All-Star, the 1947 Rookie of the Year, and the 1949 batting champion and NL MVP. His efforts helped the once-hapless Brooklyn franchise win six National League pennants and the 1955 World Series.
To help celebrate Robinson’s legacy, MLB Network will be showing 12 hours of Jackie-related programming while the Jackie Robinson Foundation will launch the new “Jackie Robinson Day Virtual Learning Hub,” providing educational programming to educators and parents for students in grades K-12, at JRLegacy.org. Major League Baseball will also feature educational activities centered around Robinson’s heroics at MLB.com/42.
Each of the league’s 30 teams will have exclusive content on their sites, commemorating their connections with Robinson over the years.