Every year on April 15, Major League Baseball pays homage to the man who integrated the game. This year, the Florida State League is adding a new way to honor him -- with the inaugural Jackie Robinson Celebration Game.
The Brevard County Manatees and Lakeland Flying Tigers will play at Holman Stadium, the main field at Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach, where Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers established Spring Training operations in 1948.
"Historic Dodgertown is truly the cradle of baseball's racial integration," said Minor League Baseball president and CEO Pat O'Conner. "The activities on those hallowed grounds and the exploits of Jackie Robinson changed not only baseball but America and the world.
"There is no more fitting tribute to Jackie Robinson's legacy and Historic Dodgertown's place in history than to play a professional baseball game in Vero Beach on April 15. I applaud the efforts of Peter O'Malley and the Florida State League in giving Minor League Baseball a role in the celebration."
The game, set to take place at 6 p.m. ET, may become an annual tradition.
"We are certainly glad to again play a Florida State League game in Historic Dodgertown," FSL president Chuck Murphy said. "I sincerely hope we can continue this practice in years to come. I applaud our two teams for making this event happen, along with Historic Dodgertown."
The Jackie Robinson Celebration Game will be the first Minor League contest played at Holman Stadium since Aug. 30, 2008. The Dodgers relocated their spring camp to Arizona the following year, and the FSL's Vero Beach Devil Rays became the Charlotte Stone Crabs in 2009.
"Historic Dodgertown is thrilled to host a regular-season Florida State League game between the Manatees and Flying Tigers," said Historic Dodgertown vice president Brady Ballard.
Holman Stadium's gates will open at 5 p.m. on game day. Tickets are $5, with net proceeds going to the United Way of Indian River County.
"This is a great community event that brings professional baseball back to Holman Stadium for a night and provides an exciting event to benefit the United Way of Indian River County," Ballard said. "We would like to thank both teams and their management, the Brewers and Tigers organizations, the Florida State League and Minor League Baseball for helping to bring this event to Vero Beach."