'Jackie Jerseys' to be auctioned off
Each will be authenticated and sold at MLB.com for charity
"Life is not a spectator sport. ... If you're going to spend your whole life in the grandstand just watching what goes on, in my opinion, you're wasting your life." -- Jackie Robinson
There are many ways to go beyond the grandstand in life, and here is another one: Bid soon at the MLB.com Auction on one of those "Jackie Jerseys" that will be worn on Sunday throughout Major League Baseball. All net proceeds will go to the Jackie Robinson Foundation to help carry on a pioneer's legacy through education.
It will be the final step in a process that began when Reds outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. approached Commissioner Bud Selig about the idea of wearing No. 42 on this April 15, which is the annual Jackie Robinson Day around the game. Selig had announced in 1997 -- the 50th anniversary of Robinson breaking baseball's color barrier -- that no on-field personnel would wear that Hall of Famer's number again. On this 60th anniversary, Selig temporarily suspended the retirement and invited all clubs to allow any of its on-field members to wear the number along with Griffey.
It has become a moving scene watching the numbers of players, managers and coaches line up behind Griffey in this way, and it will be a spectacular tribute all day and night on Sunday when No. 42 is omnipresent. For example, all members of the Dodgers will wear that number in their home game against the Padres, underscored by the fact that Robinson made his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers that day in 1947. Other teams are going all-42 as well. Mets manager Willie Randolph will be wearing it.
So now there is an answer to the question: What happens to all of those "Jackie Jerseys" after Sunday's games have been played?
Each jersey will be authenticated on-site, and will be auctioned on MLB.com with net proceeds to benefit the Jackie Robinson Foundation. That foundation assists increasing numbers of minority youths through the granting of four-year scholarships for higher education.
This is similar to what happened last season when players at each Mother's Day game used pink bats for the first time, helping to raise awareness about breast cancer and how people can make a difference. Those bats were then authenticated, signed and auctioned at MLB.com, with all net proceeds going to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. The bats were auctioned on a "rolling" basis after the event rather than auctioned off all at once, and expect a similar process with the Jackie Jerseys. MLB.com will announce whenever the jerseys are officially on the block.
In addition, the MLB.com Shop is selling authentic No. 42 jerseys for 29 clubs -- exactly like the ones that will be worn Sunday. The Yankees are the exception because reliever Mariano Rivera is the only active player who still wears his own No. 42. There are other commemorative items for Jackie Robinson Day in the Shop as well.
Each of the 15 games throughout Major League Baseball Sunday will feature festivities to honor Robinson, and all of them can be seen with MLB.TV. When the events are happening simultaneously, it is easy to see everything by using MLB.TV Mosaic as a live "control room" on your computer, choosing which broadcast to focus on. An MLB.TV subscription also means on-demand capability, so if you bid successfully on one of the Jackie Jerseys, you can always refer back to the game and see how it was worn by a member of on-field personnel that day.
The national celebration of Jackie Robinson Day will take place at Dodger Stadium with a VIP-filled reception and on-field ceremony prior to the Padres-Dodgers game. The ceremony and game will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN HD, ESPN Radio and ESPN Deportes at 8 p.m. ET. Among those participating in the festivities will be Rachel Robinson, Jackie's wife and founder of The Jackie Robinson Foundation; their daughter, author Sharon Robinson, and son, David Robinson; several of Jackie's former teammates; baseball executives and civic and industry leaders; Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholars; and winners of the Breaking Barriers Essay Contest.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.