On April 15, 1947 Jackie Robinson debuted for the Brooklyn Dodgers, breaking the color barrier, and paving the way for all those who came after him in the MLB modern era. Jackie Robinson Day is a time to remember that afternoon in Brooklyn when Jackie Robinson took the field. On Jackie Robinson Day, every MLB player wears the No. 42. If you wonder who is playing where without names on the back of there uniforms, that is the point. On that day, everyone is Jackie Robinson. Eventually that year, Jackie Robinson also became the first “Rookie of the Year,” in the awards’ inaugural year. The path he took to his MLB career started in Sanford, Florida, 40 miles from Daytona Beach. Branch Rickey, the Brooklyn Dodgers Club President, had an innovative concept of “farm system development” when he ran the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1930’s. Eventually, every other team adopted the idea. His long term relationships with officials in Daytona Beach also helped provide Spring Training facilities for the Brooklyn Dodgers, as well as Montreal Dodgers.
When you sit in those old grand stands, behind home plate of Historic City Island Ballpark (now named Jackie Robinson Ballpark), you are almost transported back to that time in 1946. That small memory is an important part the social fabric of baseball in America. This ballpark is one of an estimate 42 ballparks at risk of elimination in MLB’s recent Minor League reduction Proposal. MLB agreement with MILB is still pending.
Visiting Daytona to see a game at Jackie Robinson Ballpark has been a fun part of summers in Florida. The historical landmark & the exhibit of his life, located right at the entrance, reminds you of the history here. Before 2014, it was the home of the Daytona Cubs. On a “Belly Buster Mondays” promotion (all you can eat Hot Dogs, Hamburgers, popcorn and Papa John’s Pizza for $11) Daytona Cubs lose 8-4 to the Jupiter Hammer Heads. Just days before, the Daytona Cubs lost 2011 1st round draft pick Javier Baez, from Puerto Rico, and Jorge Soler, another top prospect from Cuba, as they were both reassigned to the Double-A affiliate. The team still went on to win the Florida State Championship. Since 2000, Daytona Cubs won it all six times, more then any other current team in the league. This was a vital part of the Chicago Chicago Cubs rebuild that led to the 2016 World Championship Season. Whether players get called to play in the Majors or not, it is great to be young, to live by the beach, and to get to play a game you love. The Chicago Cubs now have the Myrtle Beach Pelicans Advanced-A affiliate in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
As of 2014, this is now home to the Daytona Tortugas, a Cincinnati Reds Advanced-A affiliate. Last Wednesday, Tortugas and their Tortugas Care Foundation announced plans to revive Kelly Field, in the Midtown neighborhood, where Jackie Robinson first trained with his Montreal Dodger teammates. The idea was to have an on site groundbreaking ceremony. nonetheless, they will move forward with a ballfield on the grounds. Tortugas will also create permanent displays to honor the field’s history and the World Series Champions from Daytona Beach. They want to also reach out to the community with sports equipment and programming. More importantly, it will be a place that brings people together. The tradition continues.