Program uses Jackie Robinson's example to encourage children

Program uses Jackie Robinson's example to encourage children

Credit: Getty Images

Jackie Robinson, #42 of the Brooklyn Dodgers

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by Lucy Bustamante,13News

WVEC.com

Posted on April 15, 2013 at 1:18 PM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 16 at 6:49 AM

NORFOLK--April 15 may be tax day, but to baseball fans, it's Jackie Robinson Day.

This is the 66th anniversary of the day Robinson put on a Brooklyn Dodgers uniform in a regular-season game and broke the sport's color barrier.

According to MLB.com, every Dodgers player will wear the number and he'll be honored in each of the nine ballparks where games will be played today.

The tribute comes days after the opening of "42," the movie about his life. It was a home run with fans, taking in $27.3 million, studio executives said Sunday.

Robinson's inspiring story is one of many behind an effort called RBI-Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities. In Los Angeles, 200 youngsters had a private screening of the film. They also heard from Robinson's niece, Kathy, according to MLB.com.  RBI works to get underprivileged children to play the game.

Manny Upton still enjoys watching his sons play professional baseball and was especially proud when BJ and Justin each scored home runs last week.

He knows it wouldn't have happened without Jackie Robinson and other African Americans leading the way.

Each year, Upton brings young black children to Atlanta with his Seven Cities baseball team to experience competition and keep them in love with the game.

Bryce Myers, a student at Greenbrier Christian Academy in Chesapeake, says he feels lucky he doesn't live in an age of discrimination and enjoys his time with Coach Upton and his team.

"Baseball is in my family. I'm not leaving it," he said.

Greenbrier Coach Gary Lavelle, who used to play for the San Francisco Giants, remembers playing baseball when there were still pockets of discrimination, especially in the South.

"I'm really glad those days are over," he stated.

In Norfolk, RBI partners with the police department's Badges for Baseball program and the Norfolk State University baseball team.   For more information about RBI, call 757-441-5834/5835.

 

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