Baseball is the American pastime. And I don’t know about you, but I’ve been counting down to opening day since pitchers and catchers reported to spring training last month. This past weekend provided another timely reminder of the great partnership between Major League Baseball and Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
The Boys & Girls Club of Cairo-Grady County is in south Georgia. So far south, in fact, it’s practically in Florida. Over the weekend, the Club was officially re-named the Jackie Robinson Boys & Girls Club of Cairo-Grady County. Robinson, the legendary Brooklyn Dodger who broke the league’s “color line” in 1947, was born in Cairo in 1919.
Over a 10-year career, the Hall of Fame infielder helped the Ebbets Field nine claim six National League pennants and one world championship. His accomplishments include winning the Rookie of the Year Award (now the Jackie Robinson Award) and being named National League MVP in 1949. Throughout his life, Robinson advocated for racial equality in all facets of life.
The Club members at our Cairo, Ga., Club will soon enjoy new ball fields and the rich heritage their Club holds.
On Friday night, more than 300 guests turned out for a tribute dinner honoring Robinson. The event was made extra special by the presence of his daughter, Sharon Robinson, the educational programming consultant for MLB. Also on hand, former heavyweight champ and Club alum Evander Holyfield; and Cairo native, five-time Olympian and a member of the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame, Teresa Edwards. The next morning, the Club hosted a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the construction of a new set of youth baseball fields.
The first pitch of the new season gets thrown April 1. I’m looking forward to it as much as I ever have – which is saying something. But this year, I think I’m just as geeked up for April 15. That’s Jackie Robinson Day, when every Major Leaguer wears the number 42 on their uniform in honor of the man who set a standard for courage and fairness that stands to this very day.