By Eric Gold, MLB Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Jackie Robinson, the man who broke baseball's color barrier 47 years ago, is already a permanent fixture in America's National Pastime. Now Major League Baseball is affixing his name to a celebration. This Thursday 13 teams will host special ceremonies to honor Robinson.
Starting this year, April 15 will be known as Jackie Robinson Day and this year's events will span from New York to Anaheim.
A special video tribute to Robinson will be shown to fans at Thursday's games. The flagship celebration will be held at Shea Stadium, where the New York Mets host the Atlanta Braves in the evening. Jackie's wife, Rachel Robinson, is expected to address the crowd at Shea Stadium and commissioner Bud Selig will also attend the festivities.
Getting to the ball park on Thursday would be beneficial for several fans as the first 20,000 will receive a limited edition, commemorative Jackie Robinson postcard. The front of the postcard depicts Robinson's first at-bat on April 15, 1947. The text from Robinson's National Baseball Hall of Fame induction plaque is printed on the back.
It was on this day in 1947 that Robinson participated in his first major league game, breaking the color barrier in the sport. Robinson played first base that day for the Brooklyn Dodgers and went on to an illustrious career that included six All-Star appearances and the 1949 National League MVP. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1962 and had his number 42 retired in perpetuity by Major League Baseball in 1997.
Robinson is not only remembered for his outstanding play, but for his courage to stand up against discrimination. His legacy and the impact he had on the game of baseball and society as a whole will always be in the minds and hearts of everyone.
Here's a sampling of what some teams are planning for Thursday:
In Philadelphia the Reds will host the Phillies in the afternoon. Before the contest there will be a press conference featuring five living members of the Philadelphia Stars Negro League team.
In Houston, the Astros are offering discounts on tickets to their night game with the Milwaukee Brewers. Some of the proceeds will benefit the Jackie Robinson Foundation.
In Anaheim, local members of the Robinson Family will be honored before the Angels play a night game against the Seattle Mariners. The Angels donated over 1,300 tickets to local organizations in the greater Los Angeles region to help celebrate the inaugural Jackie Robinson Day.
NEXT STOP, THE 700 CLUB FOR BONDS
Now that Barry Bonds has passed his godfather on the all-time home run list he can lock in on the Babe. Even though Bonds won't reach Ruth's 714 home runs by the end of this season, those who think the San Francisco slugger won't catch Hank Aaron's mark of 755 have to be kidding themselves. In all probability, Bonds will break the record in 2006, which happens to be the final year of his current contract with the Giants.
Aside from the normal throngs of media and the specter of allegations of steroid use, the on-field pressure is off Bonds with his passing of Willie Mays on the home run chart as he belted No. 661 Tuesday night.
With no contract disputes in the offing, the only roadblock in Bonds' home chase is well.....Bonds. He's likely to receive more days out of the lineup this year to guard against any injury, but those off nights could be limited late in the season, especially if the Giants are in the playoff race.
What Bonds really wants though is a championship. Forget about the individual accolades. There's not much more to accomplish for the six-time NL MVP. Bonds has already been named an All-Star 12 times and has eight Gold Gloves.
"There's a lot of great players out there. He's just a tad better," Giants outfielder Marquis Grissom said jokingly following Tuesday night's 4-2 win over the Brewers. "The numbers speak for themselves. He's just unbelievable. He's the total team player. He never talks about individual stats."
THE 200 CLUB: MUSSINA AND BROWN
A pair of Yankee pitchers recorded the 200th win of their careers in a span of just four days. On Sunday Mike Mussina reached the plateau with a triumph over the White Sox. On Wednesday Kevin Brown continued his amazing performance on the mound this season, in beating the Devil Rays for a third time in 2004.
The 39-year-old righthander hadn't faced the Devil Rays in his career until this season, but now he's 3-0 against them. On Wednesday at a soggy Yankee Stadium, Brown allowed just five hits and a run over seven innings. He also walked four and struck out four as his ERA stands at 1.29 this season.
Brown (200-131) threw 112 pitches, 60 for strikes. He becomes the 101st pitcher to record win No. 200 and he seems to be in incredible form, a carry over from 2003 when he logged a 14-9 mark with a 2.39 ERA for the Dodgers.
This marked the first time in major league history that teammates have recorded their 200th victories in successive starts.