Jackie Robinson Day
Via Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

SEATTLE - Every year on April 15, Major League Baseball spends the entire day celebrating the life of Jackie Robinson, the player who broke through baseball's color barrier and made his debut in the Majors on April 15, 1947.

A celebration that started in 2004, Jackie Robinson Day has been extended league-wide as a way of honoring the person that ended with 80 years of baseball segregation. In 1997, MLB retired Robinson's number throughout the league and in 2009 requested that every player and all on-field personnel wear his legendary No.42 shirt during games scheduled on April 15.

The seven-time All-Star and World Series champion in 1955 will receive a special tribute on scoreboards across America. A video titled "Pasadena Fields" will also air in honor of Robinson at all stadiums and it will also be available at MLB.com and MLB.TV.

Other celebrations of the legendary No.42 include a volunteer event at the Jackie Robinson Museum in New York. A group of volunteers who work in MLB's local office will assemble gift boxes and cases of candy that will later be donated to foster care children.

Thanks to his contributions to the world of baseball, Robinson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962. Robinson's courageous figure served as an example to many during the Jim Crow era, and that motivated others to follow him into breaking baseball's color barrier. That included Latinos too.

The Cuban Orestes Miñoso became the first Black Latino to play in Major League Baseball in 1949 when he made his debut with Cleveland. Also a product of the Negro Leagues, Miñoso joined the league in 1946, just a few months after Robinson signed with the Dodgers.

After helping Cleveland and the Chicago White Sox at breaking the color barrier, more Black Latinos followed.

Cubans Saturnino "Nino" Escalera and Carlos Paula and Dominican Ozzie Virgil all followed Miñoso's footsteps and played a role in desegregating the sport during the 1950s and 1960s.

Fast forward to today, a big disparity in the number of Black players in the Majors still exists. According to the league, their Opening Day rosters in 2023 remained among the most diverse in all of professional sports, accounting for 40.34% players from diverse backgrounds, but only 59 of those players were Black.

The increment of diversity among all MLB rosters continues to be a priority for the league, and they have created projects to counter this issue. In 2017, the DREAM Series was established as an experience event predominantly focused on African-American players. The program aims to develop players on and off the field through seminars, mentorship and scout evaluations.

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