This Saturday, players and coaches in the Major Leagues -- and those on several Minor League teams -- will celebrate Jackie Robinson's legacy by wearing uniforms featuring his iconic No. 42.The Daytona Tortugas, however, are staging their own unique tribute.
This Saturday, players and coaches in the Major Leagues -- and those on several Minor League teams -- will celebrate Jackie Robinson's legacy by wearing uniforms featuring his iconic No. 42.
The Daytona Tortugas, however, are staging their own unique tribute.
The Class A Advanced affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds are paying homage to Robinson by having their players wear Brooklyn Dodgers-themed No. 9 jerseys. Robinson wore the single digit during 1946 Spring Training, which was held in Daytona Beach, Florida, and marked his first games with the Dodgers organization. That year, Daytona Beach became the first city to permit Robinson to play with white players; other Florida locales -- including Sanford and Jacksonville -- refused to alter existing Jim Crow laws.
Robinson's legacy has always loomed large in Daytona Beach. The Tortugas' ballpark -- where Robinson played more than 70 years ago -- was renamed Jackie Robinson Ballpark in 1988.
"Everyone seems to think that Jackie Robinson only wore 42, but when he was here, he wore nine," said Ryan Keur, now in his first season as Tortugas president. "So we worked closely with Minor and Major League Baseball to get approval for the whole team to wear nine. ... This is something we want to take and run with."
The Tortugas will honor Robinson in other ways. George Bates, who worked as a 1946 Spring Training batboy in Daytona Beach, will serve as the evening's "honorary batboy." Bates' father, Robert, filmed part of the April 2, 1946, game featuring Robinson and is archived in the National Baseball Hall of Fame library.
Albert Bethune, grandson of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, will also be on hand. Dr. Bethune was a civil rights activist and founder of Daytona Beach's Bethune-Cookman University, one of several historically black colleges and universities across the South. She was a strong advocate of Robinson's attempt to integrate Major League Baseball and key to Daytona Beach's decision to reject Jim Crow laws that existed at the time.
While the Tortugas will be the only team to wear Robinson's No. 9 on Saturday, Keur envisions big things for the future.
"This is something unique to Minor League Baseball," he said. "It would be great to get all full-season [Minor League] teams on board."
Daytona Beach won't be the only locale in Florida to celebrate Robinson on Saturday. The fourth annual Jackie Robinson Game will take place at Holman Stadium in Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach. Dodgertown was the Dodgers' Spring Training home from 1953 through 2008. While Holman Stadium no longer hosts Minor League Baseball, the FSL's Florida Fire Frogs and St. Lucie Mets will play that night at the facility.
A quick, informative and wholly indispensable guide to other top Minor League promotions this week.April 12:
The Charleston RiverDogs pay tribute to ballpark vending icon Anthony Wright, also known as Tony the Peanut Man, who died unexpectedly in November at 63.April 13:
On Chuck Taylor
Night, the Jumbo Shrimp celebrate the 100th
anniversary of Converse's most well-known sneaker. All fans named Chuck or Taylor get in free.April 14:
One night before honoring Robinson, the Tortugas take the field in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle jerseys.April 15:
The Hickory Crawdads play a scheduled doubleheader to allow players and staff to have Easter Sunday off. In honor of the team's 25th
anniversary, a limited number of tickets to the twinbill will cost $2.50.
The first Hatfield vs. McCoy game will take place when the Lexington Legends host the West Virginia Power.
Fans attending the San Jose Giants game receive a Salute to the Military trading card set.
In Memphis, the Redbirds celebrate Robinson with specially themed jerseys and a pregame forum featuring members of the "Memphis 13," who integrated the city's public school system more than 50 years ago. April 17:
Taking a cue from the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders' playbook,
the Myrtle Beach Pelicans host "Man vs. Marathon."
In Fort Myers, Florida, and citing "recent events that transpired on an United Airlines flight," the Miracle are offering half-price tickets
to anyone who brings a United boarding pass to the box office. "A seat is a seat," the team said. "We will never
overbook our ballpark."April 18:
On "NFL Night," the Trenton Thunder welcome Plaxico Burress, who totaled 8,499 yards and 64 touchdowns over 11 seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants and New York Jets. He also caught the game-winning touchdown in the Giants' Super Bowl XLII win over the New England Patriots.
Benjamin Hill is a reporter for MiLB.com and writes Ben's Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter @bensbiz.