Since 1997, Major League Baseball has selected a day during the season to honor Jackie Robinson, the first Black man to play in the league, by having every player on every team wear his iconic number-42 jersey when they take the field.
This season, the Miami Marlins have something much bigger in mind to honor the all-time great. Ahead of Jackie Robinson Day this Friday, the Marlins announced they'll donate $440,000 to the Jackie Robinson Foundation, which will award a yearly $20,000 scholarship to an outstanding African-American student in South Florida who demonstrates Robinson's values.
Robinson broke MLB's color line in 1947 when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers. Along with ending racial segregation in professional baseball, he went on to win the Rookie of the Year award in his first season with the team.
The Marlins' gesture coincides with the 100th anniversary of the Negro Leagues, the loose confederation of teams to which Robinson and other Black players had been relegated.
"Jackie was an inspiration for his work on and off the field, and his impact can be seen across South Florida and throughout the nation," Marlins CEO Derek Jeter said in a team statement. "This significant contribution will provide opportunities and support for future leaders from our local communities in their pursuit of excellence."
The Jackie Robinson Foundation scholarship program was created to address the financial needs of college students and to provide mentoring and support services to those in need. Students chosen to receive the four-year grant will be able to attend the undergraduate school of their choice.
Della Britton, president and CEO of the Jackie Robinson Foundation, noted that scholarship recipients have, on average, a 98 percent graduation rate.
"We could not be more grateful to Derek Jeter and the entire Miami Marlins organization for so generously supporting our efforts to close the achievement gap in higher education and the workplace," she said in a statement.
This isn't the first gesture the Marlins have made to honor Robinson. Each year, the team selects a Jackie Robinson Employee of the Year to recognize a front-office staff member who best exhibits Robinson's nine core values: courage, determination, teamwork, persistence, integrity, citizenship, justice, commitment, and excellence.
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