CHICAGO - As the biopic 42: The True Story of An American Legend is released in theaters nationwide today, the Chicago Cubs announced they will honor the 66th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking baseball's color barrier, Tuesday, April 16. This historic moment is celebrated league-wide each year, April 15, with all uniformed personnel wearing Robinson's retired number in honor of the legendary Hall of Famer.
"We're happy to join all of Major League Baseball on this historic occasion," said Tom Ricketts, chairman, Chicago Cubs. "Jackie Robinson is a true American hero, and we are all greatly indebted to his contribution to not only baseball, but to American history and culture."
Since the Cubs' home series against the Texas Rangers begins April 16, the Cubs will honor Jackie Robinson during a pregame ceremony, and players of both teams will wear number 42. And nearly 50 "42" flags will adorn the roof of Wrigley Field during the series. The flags will be installed Monday, April 15, weather permitting.
As part of the pregame ceremony, Hall of Famers Ernie "Mr. Cub" Banks and "Sweet Swinging" Billy Williams will be recognized. Banks shares a special kinship with Robinson as the first African-American to play for the Chicago Cubs. Banks considered Robinson a mentor during their time in the majors. Banks and Robinson also share the same birthday, January 31. Banks turned 82 this year while Robinson would have turned 94.
Billy Williams broke into the majors not long after Robinson and Banks, and credits Robinson with being the pioneer who opened the door for all baseball players of color. Williams will share his comments about Robinson and his own personal experience playing in the Robinson-era during the game telecast on Comcast SportsNet.
Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Jr., founder and president, Rainbow Push Coalition, will throw one of the first pitches Tuesday night. Jackson and Robinson were friends, and Rev. Jackson gave the eulogy at Jackie Robinson's funeral services in Brooklyn, NY.
John C. McGinley will join Rev. Jackson for a first pitch assignment. McGinley stars as the Brooklyn play-by-play announcer Red Barber in the movie, 42: The True Story of An American Legend. Barber was affectionately known as the voice of the Dodgers from 1939 to 1953. McGinley will also serve as the Guest Conductor for the 7th Inning Stretch.
Following the game, Cubs Authentics will auction a game worn 42 jersey signed by all Cubs players and a flag from the roof of Wrigley Field. Proceeds will go to Chicago Cubs Charities.
The Chicago Cubs are engaging youth for this historic celebration. Seventeen-year-old Nikki Hayes will perform the National Anthem. Hayes, a senior at Plainfield East High School, is an up-and-coming Pop/R&B singer, songwriter, self-taught musician, dancer and actress in training.
The Chicago Cubs will host more than 300 Chicago Public School (CPS) high school baseball players to attend Tuesday night's game in recognition of the celebration. Several CPS baseball players will be recognized during the pregame ceremony.
To help promote the movie in Chicago, the Cubs have partnered with Warner Bros. to execute in-ballpark promotional elements with fans. Since Opening Day, Warner Bros. has featured in-game signage behind home plate and will conduct one lucky row upgrade during the game Tuesday night. The 42 trailer has also run on the right-field LED board before the games during the homestand.
Chicago Cubs Sponsor 42 Screening for Southside Youth Saturday, April 13
The Chicago Cubs are partnering with the Chicago Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., as part of its Official Project ART: Actively Redefining Together - Delta Red Carpet movie series, to sponsor 500 students for a screening of 42: The True Story of An American Legend at Chatham 14 Theaters, 210 W. 87rth St., Chicago, Ill. Students from Jackie Robinson Elementary, Wendell Smith Elementary, Jackie Robinson West Little League, Englewood Little League, Bronzeville Little League, Murray Elementary, Delta GEMS, EMBODI, Heartland Alliance and Percy L. Julian High School will have an opportunity to see the feature biopic detailing the life story of Jackie Robinson.
42 film cast member and Chicago's own Dusan Brown will be on hand to greet and address students about the movie. Brown, who makes his big screen debut plays a young Ed Charles, a boy who admired Jackie Robinson and was inspired by him to become a professional baseball player.
Hall of Famer Ernie Banks and Julian Green, vice president, Communications and Community Affairs, will join Chicago Alumnae Chapter President Joann Thomas Woods to greet the students after the movie.
"This is a wonderful opportunity for our youth to learn about history and become inspired about their future," said Julian Green, Cubs vice president of Communications and Community Affairs.