01/31/08 6:52 PM ET
Dodgers help kids remember Jackie
Special visit to Dodger Stadium highlights Robinson's birthday
By Ben Platt / MLB.com
"He left quite a legacy and I'm very proud to be a small part of that legacy," said Newcombe. "For him and [wife] Rachel, to think back about how things were then and how they are now, there's been a significant change that Jackie would have been able to witness today had he still been alive.""Jackie's legacy went further than the baseball diamond," said Johnson, who helped the Dodgers win the 1965 World Series over the Minnesota Twins and has been involved with the organization's community affairs department for more than 30 years. "For me personally and other people, baseball is still the granddaddy of all sports, so more people are watching it. Then when you add the process of education that's been put into this, that makes parents look up and take notice, and for me to be a part of this and talk about Jackie, I get to talk about a person who did a lot for our country." On April 15, 2007, 60 years after Robinson courageously broke MLB's color barrier, the league hosted its national tribute at Dodger Stadium. More than 200 players throughout MLB wore No. 42 in honor of Robinson, including all Los Angeles Dodgers uniformed personnel. Dodgers owners Frank and Jamie McCourt also extended their support to the Jackie Robinson Foundation with a grant of $105,000 annually for a decade to sponsor 42 new college scholarships, $2,500 each, that benefit minority students in the Los Angeles area. This endowment followed the McCourts' establishment of the "Team 42" Scholarship Program, created on April 15, 2005, in conjunction with the Dodgers Dream Foundation. Team 42 awards 42 scholarships of up to $7,500 annually to students in the greater Los Angeles area that attend a four-year college or university. Steinberg says the Dodgers will always go the extra mile in commemorating that significant day in April. "You want to keep April 15 as a joyous day of celebration throughout baseball," said Steinberg. "Those plans for this season are still in gestation. That's why we wanted to do something like this right in the middle of winter, right when you're just starting to take out that glove that you're starting to oil, or start rubbing down that baseball again. "We want to demonstrate to you that even in the middle of winter, baseball teaches lessons of life and one of the most important is that you can be anything that you want to be, you can pursue any career you want. Why? Because a baseball player for the Dodgers made it so. That's a lesson you can reinforce on April 15 and then you have a summer of baseball and then you come back in January and tell the story again."
Ben Platt is a national correspondent for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.