Today is Jackie Robinson Day and it is being celebrated in new ways

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On Sunday, April, 15th, MLB will commemorate the annual league-wide Jackie Robinson Day with even more ways to celebrate the Hall of Famer who made history on April 15, 1947, as the first African-American player in the Major Leagues when he suited up for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

As has been customary since 2009, all on-field personnel, including players, managers, coaches and umpires, will wear Robinson's No. 42. This year, a commemorative patch on all team caps and jersey sleeves and socks with the No. 42 on them have been added. There's also a new lightweight hooded fleece for batting practice and dugout wear, also featuring the 42 logo.

All proceeds from the sale of these items will be donated to the Jackie Robinson Foundation, an organization that provides four years of financial assistance and direct program services annually to 225 students attending 100 colleges and universities across the country. The JRF has developed a mentoring curriculum called JRF Scholars, and some of those scholars will be honored during the special on-field, pregame celebrations on home fields across the league Sunday.

Rachel Robinson, Jackie's wife and founder of the Jackie Robinson Foundation, and their daughter, Sharon Robinson, are scheduled to attend the Jackie Robinson Day ceremonies at Citi Field, the home of the Mets, who will host the Brewers.

In conjunction with Jackie Robinson Day weekend, MLB will also host the second annual Trailblazer Series at the MLB Youth Academy in Compton, Calif., for approximately 100 girls, ages 13 and under, representing 21 states as well as Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and Canada. The three-day tournament that starts Thursday will feature players from AAU, Babe Ruth and Cal Ripken Baseball, Little League International, Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI), PONY and USSSA, and other leagues along with top coaches and players, including members of USA Baseball's Women's National Team.

These dates and figures also are important as MLB celebrates the league's growing diversity on Jackie Robinson Day. African-American/African-Canadian/Black players made up 8.4 percent of Major League rosters on Opening Day this year, the highest percentage on Opening Day active rosters in the past six seasons.

Overall, 41 percent of players on 2018 active, Opening Day rosters are of African-American/African-Canadian/Black, Latino, Asian or Pacific Island descent. Also, the first round of the MLB Draft has featured 41 African-American players out of 204 total selections since 2012, a total of 20.1 percent.

On April 16, MLB and Scholastic will announce all 10 winners of the Breaking Barriers: In Sport, In Life essay contest, which honors the legacy of Robinson. The contest recognizes students who have overcome barriers in their own lives using the example set forth by Robinson. The grand-prize winners from each category will win a trip to the 2018 MLB All-Star Game and World Series, respectively.

Jim Schaffer