VERO BEACH – The 2019 Jackie Robinson Celebration Game at Historic Dodgertown’s Holman Stadium April 15 takes place during an exciting time for the legendary facility.
Jackie Robinson made his Major League Baseball debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947. In 1948, Dodgertown opened and became the first fully integrated spring training facility in the south.
The sixth annual Jackie Robinson Celebration Game, a benefit for United Way of Indian River County, will take place on Monday, April 15, at 6:42 p.m., at Holman Stadium. Fireworks sponsored by The Brackett Family Foundation will light up the sky shortly after the game.
Tickets for the expected sell-out are on sale now. The St. Lucie Mets, a Class A-Advanced affiliate of the New York Mets, will host the Fort Myers Miracle, an affiliate of the Minnesota Twins.
“United Way is proud to partner with Historic Dodgertown in the sixth annual Jackie Robinson Celebration Game,” said United Way CEO Michael Kint. “This has become a phenomenal community-wide event that is inspirational, family-friendly, affordable, and lots of fun. We deliberately keep ticket prices as low as possible so more people have access to this outstanding event.”
In early April, the 50-year spring training home of the Dodgers was renamed in honor of Jackie Robinson. Two months prior, the facility became the only sports property on the U.S. Civil Rights Trail. It is now featured alongside Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthplace in Atlanta; the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama; the Greensboro, North Carolina, Woolworth’s where sit-ins began; and the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis.
The designation followed a similar recognition from the state of Florida. In 2014, Historic Dodgertown was named a Florida Heritage Landmark for its significance in the civil rights movement.
With Mr. Robinson’s wife, daughter, and son in attendance, as well as former Dodgers owner Peter O’Malley, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred announced that Dodgertown will now be called the Jackie Robinson Training Complex.
Indian River County Commissioner Peter O’Bryan handed over the keys to the facility to MLB.
“The relationship between the Robinson family and Major League Baseball is a special one,” Mr. Manfred said at a Vero Beach news conference. “Jackie is responsible for the most important moment in the history of baseball, breaking the color barrier, and part of a movement in American history, not just baseball history, that led to greater equality in our country and really a turning point in civil rights."
Sharon Robinson, Jackie’s daughter, said “It’s very exciting to us because my dad was so committed to young people. While he was still playing baseball, he started with the Harlem YMCA. He was always committed to the development of young people.”
“Dad would go meet with the young boys. It was boys back then, only the young boys, so now we’ll be reaching boys and girls and hopefully giving them a strong message and support in their lives.”
The facility will continue its focus on the development of youth baseball and softball players.
“Not only is this facility important for what happened here historically, but it’s also important for what goes on here today,” Mr. Manfred said. “Some of our most important programming is held here. It is a symbol of our commitment to making baseball look like America, providing elite playing opportunities to kids, most of color from all over the United States.”
“Dodgertown, Vero Beach played a pioneering role in advancing rights for African-Americans starting in 1948 and continuing throughout the 1950s and 1960s,” said Mr. O’Malley. “All of us connected to Dodgertown and its legacy are extremely proud of this well-deserved recognition by the U.S. Civil Rights Trail organization.”
MLB plans extensive renovations, including a new indoor training facility. The complex features the 6,500-capacity Holman Stadium, four full-size baseball fields, four softball and youth baseball fields, twelve batting/pitching tunnels, 32 mounds and home plates for individual work, and an agility and warm-up area.
Advance tickets are $6 and available through April 11 at all Marine Banks and Seacoast Banks in Indian River County, the United Way Center and Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach, and in St. Lucie County at First Data Field.
From April 12-15, the price increases to $8 and tickets will be sold only at Historic Dodgertown’s main lobby. Children three and under get in free.
For more information about Dodgertown, visit www.HistoricDodgertown.com.
Dodgertown is located at 3901 26th St., Vero Beach.