Each year, April 15 marks a profoundly important date on MLB's calendar: Jackie Robinson Day, which commemorates the anniversary of Robinson's 1947 major-league debut for the Brooklyn Dodgers, which brought a tragically belated end to the color barrier at the highest level of professional baseball. Thanks to Robinson's pioneering achievement and the fortitude and ferocity necessary to make it happen, he stands as not only a luminary of the sport but also a genuine American hero.
Players honor Robinson on April 15 by wearing his No. 42, which has been retired across all of MLB in perpetuity. This year, however, more than 100 major leaguers are going further and donating their April 15 game-day salaries to support the Players Alliance, which works to promote Black participation at every level of organized baseball and promote a more diverse future for the sport. Per the Players Alliance announcement, David Price, Jason Heyward, and Jackie Bradley Jr. are among the players "of all races and backgrounds" who will be committing their full or partial Thursday salaries toward the cause.
As well, the Alliance will launch a "Breaking Barriers" campaign that will in part support the Jackie Robinson Foundation. The initiative includes a new scholarship fund that will begin supporting student athletes in time for the 2021 Fall semester. As well, this year's drive will support the Alliance's baseball gear distribution program in addition to mentorship and baseball access programs.
"On April 15, we honor Jackie Robinson as the first player to break the color barrier, a reminder there is still much work to be done in our game," Alliance president and former major leaguer Curtis Granderson said in that same statement. "As The Players Alliance seeks to bridge the gap of racial inequity in baseball, we're encouraging players, on this date especially, to consider supporting the Alliance and our efforts to continue Jackie's legacy of breaking barriers."
According to the Alliance, last year's Jackie Robinson Day initiative raised more than $1 million, which was put "directly into Black communities across the country." That included "pantry supplies and COVID resources to more than 20,000 families in need."