For the 12th consecutive year, the Boston Red Sox will celebrate the life of Jackie Robinson by teaching New England area students the story of his challenges and triumphs. Congressman Richard Neal will join the Red Sox in this year’s tribute at the Van Sickle Middle School in Springfield, MA, and McMahon Elementary School in Holyoke, MA, on January 31, which would have been the Hall of Famer’s 95th birthday.
The annual event was an inspiration for Congressman Neal’s successful effort to introduce legislation to posthumously award Robinson with the Congressional Gold Medal, which took place March 2, 2005, in the Rotunda of the Capitol, with the President of the United States, Red Sox officials, and Robinson’s widow, Rachel, on hand.
Joining Congressman Neal for Friday’s tribute are Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, Red Sox Hall of Famer Tommy Harper, Red Sox club officials, and the 2013 World Series Trophy, which is on tour throughout Red Sox Nation. Dr. Steve Schlein, a scholar of Robinson’s life, will also participate in the events.
Robinson became the first African-American to play in the major leagues on April 15, 1947, when he donned a Brooklyn Dodgers uniform and stepped onto the baseball diamond at Ebbets Field for a game against the Boston Braves. Robinson won the 1947 Rookie Of the Year Award, the 1949 National League Most Valuable Player Award, and played in the All-Star Game six times in his 10-year major league career. During his tenure, the Dodgers won six N.L. pennants and the 1955 World Series.
In 1997, Commissioner of Baseball Bud Selig made Robinson’s Number 42 the first to ever be retired by all 30 major league clubs.