04/16/05 12:48 AM ET
Robinson honored with more than words
Ceremonies, contributions highlight remembrances of pioneer
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
Jackie's number was retired by decree of Commissioner Bud Selig throughout baseball in 1997 on the 50th anniversary of Robinson joining the Dodgers.Even DuPuy got into the act, pledging his own personal scholarship to the foundation of $10,000 this year. The Foundation was established 32 years ago in Jackie's name to promote education among the nation's minority students. Since then, more than 1,000 have been endowed and the graduation rate is 97 percent, said Della Britton Baeza, the foundation's president and chief executive. At present, only three athletes fund scholarships through the foundation -- the Yankees' Derek Jeter, retired MLB star Mo Vaughn, and former NBA great Michael Jordan. DuPuy said it wasn't the first time he has sponsored a scholarship through the foundation. "I've always thought it was the right and proper thing to do," he said. MLB is considering making what would amount to an annual $300,000 contribution to the foundation to fund one scholarship for each of the 30 MLB teams at $10,000 each a year, DuPuy said. The reason for that is simple. "Bud has continually stated that baseball's most shining moment, it's most important moment in its history was the day that Jackie Robinson crossed the baseline and crossed the color line," DuPuy said. It has been quite a year for the memory of Robinson, not to mention his living friends and family. Last month in Washington, D.C., Robinson posthumously was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest non-military honor given by the U.S. Congress. Throughout the season, the Dodgers will be honoring those 1955 World Series winners. With Robinson in uniform, the then Brooklynites won six National League pennants in 10 seasons, but lost to the Yankees in 1947, '49, '52, '53 and '56. Robinson stole home late in Game 1 of the '55 series, but had to sit out the climatic Game 7 with a sore Achilles tendon. Sandy Amoros, a late inning defensive replacement, made the catch of a slicing Yogi Berra line drive near the left field foul at Yankee Stadium that saved the series. By then, Robinson was already 35 years old and in decline. He batted only .182 in that series. But Rachel, who was there to watch every game, said that winning it all was the only thing that mattered. "You have to think about the team," she said on Friday. "He just couldn't play that last game, but we were looking forward to winning. We had been trained to wait 'til next year, wait 'til the next inning. But we'd gotten that far. We couldn't let it go again." A year later, Jackie retired rather than accept a trade to the rival New York Giants. Two years later, Brooklyn lost its beloved Dodgers to Los Angeles, where on Friday night Robinson's lasting legacy was highlighted once again.
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.