PAWTUCKET, R.I (WPRI) – A group of students will gather in the Pawtucket Red Sox’ Clubhouse this Saturday at noon to hear stories from Pacific Coast League President Branch Rickey III, the grandson of the legendary Hall of Fame baseball executive who signed Jackie Robinson to a contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers and thereby broke baseball’s color barrier in 1947.
Robinson, also a Hall of Famer, would have turned 97 this Sunday, January 31, the eve of Black History Month. Commissioner Emeritus Allan H. (Bud) Selig made Robinson’s 42 the first number ever retired by every club in Major League Baseball.
At least 42 students are expected.
At the suggestion of Ken Griffey, Jr., Selig instituted the tradition that all MLB players wear the number each April 15, the anniversary of Robinson’s big league debut.
“We are eager for students to learn first-hand from Branch Rickey III as he teaches the stories of his grandfather,” said PawSox President Dr. Charles Steinberg, who was instrumental in creating an annual tribute to Robinson with the Boston Red Sox starting in 2003. “Children throughout America can choose any career and pursue any dream, thanks to the ground-breaking efforts of Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson. It is our privilege to honor them and thank their family members.
“We hope the children of Pawtucket pass these stories down to succeeding generations.”
Students have been invited from the Boys and Girls Club of Pawtucket as well as area YMCAs and schools.
Although remaining space is limited, community organizers who would like to bring students can contact Joe Bradlee of the PawSox at firstname.lastname@example.org. Media interested in attending can contact email@example.com.