Jackie Robinson a golden Dodger now immortalized in bronze

And for that reason, Major League Baseball's annual Jackie Robinson Day, tacky as it may seem at times, has profound value.

The only thing to wonder about on the 70th anniversary of Robinson's debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers is why it took Major League Baseball more than a half-century to fully recognize his sacrifice and achievement.

FILE - This is an April 18, 1948, portrait of Brooklyn Dodgers baseball player Jackie Robinson.

Branly Cadet sculpted the statue.

Since 2004, baseball has honored Robinson's barrier-breaking career every April, the one day every player on every team wears his retired No. 42 jersey.

Meanwhile, the Major League Baseball Players Association announced it will donate a fitting $42,000 from the Players Trust to the Jackie Robinson Foundation for the second straight year.

Ahead of their game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Dodgers held a ceremony to unveil a statue depicting Robinson sliding into home plate.

The Dodgers will erect a bronze statue of baseball legend Jackie Robinson on Jackie Robinson Day 2017. Fifty years after that historic event, in April 1997, I was proud to join Rachel Robinson and President Bill Clinton at Shea Stadium to honor Jackie by retiring his uniform number 42 in perpetuity. It is the first statue at Dodger Stadium.

His first memories of Robinson, Baker said, came when he was still only a few years old.

It sits atop a large granite base, complete with a biography and quotes from Robinson. I've always tried to imagine what that culture shock was like for Jackie Robinson, going from California to the south and then into the Negro Leagues.

Robinson's widow, Rachel Robinson, as well as his two children, Sharon and David Robinson were also in attendance, and together, the threesome counted down the moment where the blue curtain was dropped at the statue was unveiled to adoring fans and guests.

I love Jackie Robinson Day.

All the matching No. 42s running around - a tradition that began in 2009 - will be a reminder not only of Robinson but of the continuing movement for each of us to be more like him in other ways, too.

But Robinson's impact goes far beyond his stats. Jackie was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.

Obviously, the issues of race and prejudice do not lend themselves to easy answers or simple solutions, and even the role that Campanis played in delivering a shock to baseball's exclusionary front-office hiring practices illustrates the complexity of those issues.

  • Larry Hoffman