Dodgers Owner, Erving ‘Magic’ Johnson poses with Rachel Robinson, the wife of honored Dodger Jackie Robinson before the game on April 15, 2013. Photo by Troy Tieuel
Matt Kemp prepares to bat, wearing #42, in honor of Jackie Robinson's historic efforts to desegregate Major League Baseball. Throughout the league on Jackie Robinson Day, players and officials donned Robinson's name and number. Photo by Troy Tieuel
Magic Johnson welcomes Dodger legends and African American Community to Dodger Stadium
By Troy Tieuel
Sentinel Contributing Writer
Professional sports have made serious headway in regards to race relations. On April 15, Major League Baseball honored the player who broke baseball’s the color barrier, Jackie Robinson, by hosting a day full of games and celebration. All over the league teams disregarded their normal numbers and names and donned the number ‘42’and the name Robinson, paying homage to the first African-American player to play in the modern era of baseball. In addition to that, a special event was held at Dodger Stadium that honored his lasting legacy of Robinson.
In an area of Dodger Stadium known as the Hollywood Event Suite, host and Dodgers owner Erving ‘Magic’ Johnson held a VIP Reception for Mrs. Rachel Robinson and her family. In attendance were Dodgers’ legendary alumni, Don Newcombe, ‘Sweet ‘ Lou Johnson, Dennis Powell, Derrell Thomas, Tommy Davis, Mary Wills and the family of Roy Campanella. Other sports legends, such as Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Frank Robinson, also attended along with an array of leading business and community executives. It is evident that Magic Johnson and his partners are reaching out to our community and welcoming African Americans to Dodger Stadium. The spirit in the room was warm and rooted in African American Dodger Baseball History.
“I just wanted to thank you all for coming and giving us so much support,” Rachel Robinson, wife of honored Dodger Jackie Robinson, said in a speech to the crowd of media, sports legends, celebrities and Dodger Executives, “When I look through this room, I know that the future is here.”
Also presented were the Jackie Robinson Foundation scholars, who, with the financial help of the Jackie Robinson Foundation, were able to attend Robinson’s Alma Mater, UCLA.
“It’s a great privilege to stand here amongst the pillars of our community,” said Babatunde Akinloye, one of the scholars who works at Magic Johnson Enterprises, “I consider it a true honor to be an alumnus of the Jackie Robinson Foundation. They have provided me a great deal of resources, opportunities and experiences that allowed me to step into the front doors of Mr. Johnson’s company, and carry myself in a professional manner with dignity, integrity, and with the level of character that Jackie Robinson carries himself on the field. I am honored to be here and to continue his legacy.”
Following the speeches and a reception, celebrity guests such as Harrison Ford, one of the stars of the blockbuster film ’42, The True Story of an American Legend,’ went field side to be interviewed in front of the crowd.
The choir from Faithful Central Bible Church, dressed in navy blue choir robes, sung the National Anthem with grace and dignity.
For more information or tickets to future games go to dodgers.mlb.com/Tickets.