City celebrates Jackie Robinson Day
LA presents ornate certificate of the proclamation
LOS ANGELES -- You know it's a special day at City Hall when one city councilman is clutching a baseball in one hand and another is standing next to Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and predicting that the local team will win the pennant this year.
That was the case Friday morning, when the John Ferraro council chamber was packed to the gills with baseball fans for the proclamation of Friday, April 15, as Jackie Robinson Day in Los Angeles County.
Friday already was Jackie Robinson Day throughout Major League Baseball, and in honor of the 58th anniversary of Robinson's courageous breaking of the color barrier in MLB, the city bestowed more commendation on Robinson by presenting an ornate certificate of the proclamation to Robinson's daughter, Sharon.
After the first order of business Friday, which was a recognition of graduates of an anti-gang program, councilman Tom LaBonge of District 4 got the proceedings moving by introducing councilman Ed Reyes.
Reyes, who represents District 1, or the district in which Dodger Stadium stands atop Chavez Ravine, started by reciting Jackie Robinson's impressive list of baseball accomplishments and statistics.
But he made more of a point in acknowledging Jackie as a pioneer.
"His real legacy was that of a great humanitarian and a man who tore down barriers," Reyes said. "In my culture, we refer to him as a 'pinata breaker.' He breaks the pinata but never gets the candy. He was one of the great Americans and great heroes of all time."
After Reyes' powerful words, LaBonge invited a select group of people representing Jackie Robinson to stand and be lauded during the official proclamation.
Among those who stood were Sharon Robinson, McCourt and his wife, Jamie, plus Jackie Robinson Foundation president and CEO Della Britton Baeza.
City councilman Alex Padilla then spoke, praising the Dodgers and the Jackie Robinson Foundation for keeping Jackie's legacy alive through community and educational scholarship programs. Padilla said the lasting image of Jackie Robinson shouldn't be forgotten.
"It's Jackie, sliding into home plate, eyes focused, spikes high and proud to be in a Dodgers uniform," Padilla said.
Sharon Robinson added a few words, saying that the Robinson family was, "especially proud because my mother (Rachel) and father were both local residents (Rachel grew up not far from downtown LA and Jackie grew up in Pasadena)."
Sharon also mentioned that because of this, she was excited to report that the Jackie Robinson Foundation had recently opened an LA office.
Reyes was next on the podium, and he gave Frank McCourt a warm introduction, saying LA didn't roll out the red carpet enough for the new Dodgers owner and that McCourt and Jamie were leading the Dodgers by being "bold and innovative."
McCourt started a short speech by saying he spoke for the entire Dodgers organization by saying how proud they were that Jackie Robinson wore a Dodger jersey.
That was a perfect segway for McCourt's next announcement, that the Dodgers were honoring Robinson's lifelong pursuit of the betterment of youth through education by creating a new scholarship fund that would invoke Jackie's uniform number -- 42 -- by doling out 42 annual, college scholarships of $2,500, or $105,000 total.
"Jackie played a central role in the long and rich heritage of the Dodgers," McCourt said.
"It was one of inolvement, progress and community."
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.