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Jackie Robinson Day celebration begins

LOS ANGELES - The Dodgers and Major League Baseball will commemorate the 66th anniversary of Hall of Fame Dodger Jackie Robinson breaking baseball's color barrier in 1947. The Dodgers' commemoration of Robinson begins tomorrow with Jackie Robinson Day in Los Angeles, which was officially declared by the Los Angeles City Council. The Dodgers will highlight the league-wide tribute with an extensive celebration Monday, April 15 prior to the 7:10 p.m. game against San Diego. A private screening of the Warner Bros. feature film "42" is planned for more than 200 Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities Los Angeles (RBI-LA) youngsters Saturday. Sunday, the Dodgers will host a RBI clinic for 250 youth from greater Los Angeles RBI programs. Prior to Monday's celebration at Dodger Stadium, a visit to Washington Middle School in Pasadena is planned with Dodger center fielder Matt Kemp, Dodger alumnus Tommy Davis and Sharon Robinson, Jackie's daughter, author, MLB Educational Programming Consultant and Vice Chair of the Jackie Robinson Foundation.

"My family and I are honored to be part of the Los Angeles Dodgers' celebration honoring Jackie on Monday," said Rachel Robinson, wife of Jackie Robinson. "Remembering Jackie and what he has meant not only to baseball and the Dodgers but also to remember and celebrate the impact he had and continues to have on society is very special. We look forward to joining Earvin 'Magic' Johnson, the Dodgers and their fans in what will be a very memorable tribute to Jackie's legacy."

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Monday, the Dodgers will highlight MLB's league-wide tribute to Robinson's legacy on Jackie Robinson Day at Dodger Stadium.

"We are once again thrilled to host Rachel and the Robinson family here at Dodger Stadium on Monday," said Dodger Owner Earvin "Magic" Johnson. "Jackie's impact on baseball, society and the lives of our children and our children's children is unmatched. I'm humbled to celebrate a great Dodger and a better man."

The Dodgers will celebrate Jackie Robinson Day with pregame events and on-field ceremonies. Dodger Stadium will be decorated with prominently placed 42 logos on the pitching mound, dugout, near the foul pole and baselines. There will also be Jackie Robinson Day jeweled bases and lineup cards and a special tribute video that will be shown in-stadium. The Dodgers' uniformed personnel will all wear number 42. The Dodgers will be joined by Rachel, Sharon and Jackie's son David Robinson. The Dodgers will also pay tribute to Dodger Hall of Fame catcher and three-time NL MVP Award winner Roy Campanella and Dodger Special Advisor to the Chairman, 1956 NL MVP and Cy Young Award Winner Don Newcombe pregame.

The 17 member choir of owner Earvin "Magic" Johnson's church home, West Angeles Church of God In Christ, will sing the National Anthem. Kelley Jakle, the great-granddaughter of Branch Rickey, Brooklyn Dodgers' General Manager who signed Jackie Robinson, will sing God Bless America. The ceremonial first pitch will be thrown by Academy Award® nominee Harrison Ford who stars in Warner Bros. Pictures "42" as Brooklyn Dodgers' GM Branch Rickey. Sharon Robinson will officially start the game with "It's Time for Dodger Baseball!"

Monday's Veterans of the Game are two members of the Tuskegee airmen, the first African American military aviators in the U.S. military, Lieutenant Colonel Theodore Lumpkin of Los Angeles and Major Levy Thorn Hill of Virginia. Lumpkin was drafted in 1942, completed basic training at Tuskegee Army Air Corps field in Alabama, was accepted to the Army Air Corps and assigned to the 332nd fighter group serving as an intelligence officer.  He retired as Lieutenant Colonel in 1970. Hill was drafted, attended aircraft mechanic school and in 1949, was appointed as a Cadet Officer and went on to advanced training and flying P51's. He retired in 1965 as a Major.

Dodger owner Earvin "Magic" Johnson will host several celebrities and local government dignitaries at a pregame reception and at Monday's game. Additionally, more than 200 Dodger fans who purchased a special $42 ticket will attend a Loge Terrace reception with Dodger alumni Dennis Powell, Derrel Thomas, Kenny Landreaux, "Sweet Lou" Johnson and Al Downing. Johnson will also visit with these fans.

Also on Monday, the first 40,000 fans in attendance will receive a Jackie Robinson, Don Newcombe and Roy Campanella Statue presented by the film "42" in theatres April 12.

Prior to Monday's game, Davis, Kemp and Sharon will visit Washington Middle School in Pasadena to discuss her new book, "Jackie Robinson: American Hero," and the Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life program. Jackie Robinson attended Washington Middle School, then Washington Junior High School, as a young man. The school is participating in a special Breaking Barriers essay contest where one student will be presented with a special gift by Sharon. 

The Breaking Barriers program features an essay contest that recognizes students for their efforts to overcome personal barriers using the values exemplified by Jackie Robinson. Breaking Barriers was developed by MLB, Sharon Robinson, and Scholastic, the global children's publishing, education and media company. Since its inception in 1997, Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life has reached more than 22 million children and 2.9 million educators in the continental United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. The Breaking Barriers essay contest asks students in grades four through nine to submit an essay about barriers or obstacles they have faced or are still facing in their lives, and how they overcame those obstacles using the values demonstrated by Jackie Robinson: commitment, citizenship, courage, determination, excellence, justice, persistence, teamwork, and integrity. MLB and Sharon Robinson will announce the winners of the 2013 Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life Essay Contest on Jackie Robinson Day. Following the official announcement, Sharon will visit select winners' schools to personally congratulate and recognize them.

Tomorrow the city of Los Angeles will commemorate Jackie Robinson Day in LA. Los Angeles Councilmember and former Brooklyn Dodger minor leaguer Duke Russell will present the official proclamation to Dodger alumni "Sweet" Lou Johnson and Tommy Davis.

Saturday, the Dodgers will support MLB's private screening of "42" for more than 200 RBI-LA youngsters at Rave Cinemas 15 in the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza. Dodger alumni will join youngsters from Venice Boys & Girls Club RBI, Los Angeles Recreation & YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles RBI, the MLB Urban Youth Academy in Compton and RBI Director David James for this event. The RBI program is the MLB youth initiative designed to give young people from underserved communities the opportunity to play baseball and softball, encourage academic success and teach the value of teamwork and other important life lessons.

Sunday's UCLA baseball game against Loyola Marymount will feature a pregame ceremony honoring the accomplishments of UCLA legend Jackie Robinson. UCLA will unveil a new mural of Robinson along the first base concourse that will become a permanent fixture at Jackie Robinson Stadium. As part of the pregame festivities, UCLA baseball head coach John Savage will speak about Robinson's contributions and be joined by Jackie Robinson mural artist Mike Sullivan and former UCLA great and Dodger alumnus Tim Leary.

Sunday, the Dodgers will host 250 youth from Los Angeles-area RBI programs at Dodger Stadium for a clinic from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. coached by Dodger alumni Maury Wills, Tommy Davis, Al Downing, Kenny Landreaux, "Sweet" Lou Johnson, Dennis Powell and Derrel Thomas. The clinics will also be attended by MLB Executive Vice President of Baseball Development and Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, Don Newcombe and Sharon Robinson.

Each year, the Dodgers celebrate Jackie Robinson's legacy on April 15. Robinson played his first Major League game as a first baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field on April 15, 1947. Commissioner Selig and MLB have celebrated Robinson's legacy league-wide since retiring his number throughout the league in 1997, dedicating April 15 as Jackie Robinson Day each year since 2004 and requesting that every player and all on-field personnel wear his Number 42 during games scheduled on Jackie Robinson Day since 2009.

A limited number of tickets for Jackie Robinson Day on Monday, April 15 (7:10 p.m. vs. Padres) are still available and can be purchased by visiting www.dodgers.com/tickets or by calling 866-DODGERS.

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