It’s always nice to honor the true legends of the game. That’s exactly what the United States Postal Service will do this summer when they issue a postage stamp for Larry Doby, a trailblazer and a terrific baseball player. Doby will receive a postage stamp along with three other baseball greats Willie Stargell, Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams as a part of the Major League Baseball All-Stars stamps on July 20 at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
Each of these Hall of Famers were outstanding major league players. They all made huge contributions. Doby was the first African American to play on an American League baseball team, joining the Cleveland Indians on July 5, 1947. He integrated the league just 11 weeks after Jackie Robinson broke the color line in the National League. In fact, this year is the 65th anniversary of Robinson breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball.
“This is quite an honor for him to be recognized by the United States Postal Service along with three other good guys Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio and Willie Stargell,” said his son, Larry Doby, Jr. “It’s a great honor. I’m very proud of it. I’m looking forward to it. “
Doby helped to pave the way for other Blacks to play baseball. He helped to lay the foundation for racial progress in the game of baseball, which is known as America’s pastime.
Doby was born in Camden, South Carolina and raised mostly by his maternal grandmother while his mother made a living as a domestic worker in Paterson, N.J. He eventually joined his mother in Paterson and attended Eastside High School, where he picked up 11 varsity letters from playing different sports.
Prior to graduating from high school, Doby started his baseball career with the Newark Eagles of the Negro National League. After spending time in the U.S. Navy as a physical training instructor during World War II, Doby came back to the Eagles in 1946. That season he helped the Eagles defeat Satchel Paige and the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro World Series championship. Doby and Paige were great stars from the Negro Leagues. The Negro Leagues featured players such as Josh Gibson, James “Cool Papa” Bell, Judy Johnson and Oscar Charleston. The following year Doby hit over .400 at midseason when Bill Veeck of the Cleveland Indians purchased his contract and brought him to the majors.
Doby’s white teammates gave him a chilly reception and he spent his first season on the bench. He batted .301 for the season and helped Cleveland win the pennant. During the fourth game of the World Series against the Boston Braves, he became the first Black player to hit a home run in a Major League Baseball World Series, which Cleveland won.
The following season Doby was chosen to the American League all-star team, which he made for each of the next six years. In 1950, Sporting News named him the best centerfielder in baseball, ahead of DiMaggio. He led the league in home runs and runs scored in 1952. Two years later, he again led the league in home runs, helping the Indians reach the World Series. In 1955, Doby set an American League record for an outfielder with 164 straight errorless games.
When his career was over, he coached for the Montreal Expos, the Cleveland Indians, and the Chicago White Sox. In 1978, Doby was hired as manager of the White Sox, making him the second African American to manage a major league team.
Doby was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1998. He died on June 18, 2003 in Montclair, N.J. With the U.S. Postal Service issuing stamps of Doby, DiMaggio, Stargell and Williams, young people can learn about their legacy and others can reflect on their magnificent baseball careers.
There will be a special event on Sunday, April 15, in honor of Jackie Robinson Day and a Philadelphia Stars celebration and commemoration organized by the Business Association of West Parkside. The event will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. at the Philadelphia Stars Negro League Memorial Park at Belmont and Parkside Avenues. Harold Gould, a member of the Philadelphia Stars, will be there. The ceremony will have plenty of refreshments. Phillies Ballgirls will take part in the tribute to the Philadelphia Stars.
After that event, the BAWP will host an event recognizing Jackie Robinson’s legacy. There will be a brunch at Le Cochon Noir, 5070 Parkside Avenue, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event will have a “Jackie Robinson Day” talk. This year’s speaker is Rebecca Alpert from Temple University. Alpert wrote the book, “Out of Left Field,” on Jews in Black baseball. Admission is free and restaurant will be open for brunch.
Philadelphia’s 1864 baseball club, Athletic Base Ball Club, will be attending in full uniform. Following the brunch and talk, there will be a scrimmage across the street.
Robinson broke the color line on April 15, 1947, when he made his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers as the first Black to play in major league baseball. This is the 65th anniversary of Robinson’s historic day.
Phillies celebrate Jackie Robinson Day
The entire Phillies team will wear No. 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson on Sunday, April 15. Two players from the historic Philadelphia Stars, pitcher Harold Gould and second baseman Mahlon Duckett, will be honored on the field at Citizens Bank Park. The Philadelphia Stars were in existence from 1934 to 1952 and won the 1934 Negro National League pennant.
Members of the famed Tuskegee Airmen made history at the same time Robinson broke the color line in major league baseball. Airmen include Lt. Col. Thomas Mayfield, Rev. Milton Holmes, John Pritchett, Dr. Eugene Richardson, Henry Moore, John Harrison and Bertram Levy.
Tyanna Hudson, a senior at Frankford High, and a member of the Phillies RBI softball team, will receive the Jackie Robinson Scholarship from the Phillies. David Thomas, a senior at the University of Pennsylvania, will be honored. Thomas is a Jackie Robinson Foundation scholar.
In Ashburn Alley at Citizens Bank Park, there will be a life-size, hand-carved and painted wooden statue of Robinson. The statue, which weighs over 250 pounds and stands over 6-feet tall, was created by sculptor Brian Birrer and took over 900 hours to transform from over 50 pieces of walnut, pine and basswood.
Al Hunter Jr. will be there with his new book on Philadelphia Stars catcher Bill “Ready” Cash titled “Thou Shalt Not Steal: The Baseball Life and Times of a Rifle-Armed Negro League Catcher,” available for purchase at the Phillies Newsstand in Section 111.
In honor of the 65th anniversary of when Jackie Robinson took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947, the Marian Anderson Monarchs, from South Philadelphia, joined to watch the Phillies play the Mets at the Citizens Bank Park last Sunday, April 15.
The Marian Anderson Recreation Center, located at 740 South 17th St. has various activities, workshops, programs and sports teams to provide an outlet for athletic achievement and a foundation of history.
One aspect of history the center focuses on is baseball history and how it connects to African-Americans.
Steve Bandura, program director, has been teaching a baseball history class in preparation for their “Anderson Monarch Barnstorming Tour.”
Bandura has led this tour since 1997, when the “Monarchs” conducted a 13-day tour around the country including the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri.
This summer, from June 30 through July 22, the Monarchs will board a 1947 Flexible Clipper touring bus to take a 3,500-mile-journey across the country.
The team will play against local youth teams, visit historic sites such as the Negro League Baseball Museum and Jackie Robinson’s gravesite in Brooklyn and meet surviving players from the Negro Leagues.
“I’d always talk to kids about Jackie Robinson — we were often the only Black team playing in the leagues, there couldn’t be a better role model than Jackie Robinson,” Bandura said.
The Monarchs, a mostly African-American baseball team of 10- and 11-year-olds, are well-educated on the history of Robinson and Negro League baseball. The team was enthused to watch the Phillies play as both professional teams wore number “42” in honor of Robinson.
Former Gov. Ed Rendell helped to support the tour and the Phillies game outing.
Along with attending the Phillies game on Sunday, the Monarchs played against the Glendora Gladiators and Brandywine Blacksox Saturday morning — resulting in one win and one loss.
In preparation for their tour, the Monarchs are continuing to raise money for the trip.
One of their major sponsors is Dr. William C. Meyers. Meyers has contributed and has helped sponsored the trip through his practice Core Performance Physicians, located at 4623 South Broad St.
Bandura believes this tour will help bring recognition to African-American youth who are excelling in their communities.
“The first tour was to educate our kids on Jackie Robinson and Negro leagues,” he said. “This tour on the 65th anniversary I want to expose the country to these kids — I want them to see what’s possible for inner-city kids when given the opportunities and to refute myths of why African-American kids don’t want to play baseball.”
Tyanna Hudson, Frankford High’s brilliant softball player, is looking forward to Sunday, April 15, at Citizens Bank Park when the Philadelphia Phillies hold a special ceremony in honor of Jackie Robinson prior to the start of the Phillies–New York Mets game. Sunday is the 65th anniversary of Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball. On April 15, 1947, he made his first appearance with the Brooklyn Dodgers, opening the doors for African Americans in the major leagues.
Hudson will be a part of the Phillies big salute to Robinson. The Phillies will present Hudson with the Jackie Robinson Scholarship. This is quite an honor for the Public League standout, who also plays for the Phillies RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) softball team.
“It should be exciting,” Hudson said. “I’m really happy about going down there for the game and Jackie Robinson Day. I was actually surprised that I got it. I know a lot of people who had applied for it. I was really happy and excited when I first found out. Everybody in my family had known about it except for me. So, when I found out everyone was congratulating me on winning the scholarship. I was trying to figure out why everyone was congratulating me. It was really overwhelming. I was so happy that day, nothing could bring me down. I really appreciate it.”
Hudson started playing softball as an 8-year-old at the Frankford Boys Club. At the time, she was a cheerleader and wasn’t playing softball. Her mother, Carla Hudson, encouraged her to play the game. As a result, Hudson grew to like the game and has developed into a pretty good player.
“My mother asked to give softball a try,” Hudson said. “I had to learn how to catch. I got hit in the face with the ball. So, I had to learn how to do that. Throughout the year, I became a better player. I notice my ability to play and get stronger at batting.
“I tried out for Philly Flash about three or four years after I started playing softball when I was 13. I didn’t get picked for the team. So, my mom told me to try out for the Phillies RBI team. Once I got down there they fell in love with me. They wanted to make me into a strong power hitter. That’s when I got introduced to tournament baseball. They had fast pitching and everything. That’s when I knew I loved the game.”
Hudson plays two positions, catcher and third base. The Phillies RBI softball team has allowed her to play against some great competition and travel to play in different cities.
“It was a good experience,” Hudson said. “Actually, playing at the tournament level, I got a chance to meet a lot of people. I got to travel to Florida. I had a chance to meet people from all different areas like Puerto Rico and Minnesota. It was really fun.
“Last year, we made it to the regionals and got to the tournament championship game and lost to Harrisburg. It was pretty upsetting, but we got over it. We’re hoping to get back in it again this year. If we would have won the regionals, we would have gone to the World Series in Minnesota. The year before we played in the World Series and that was in Palm Beach, Florida. We played the regionals in Washington, D.C.”
In addition to playing baseball for the Phillies RBI softball team, Hudson is a marvelous player for Frankford High School. She is a three-time All-Public League selection and a two-time Public League representative in the Carpenter Cup.
The Frankford High senior will attend Lackawanna College, a junior college in Scranton, Pa. She plans to play softball in college.
“Lackawanna has good atmosphere,” Hudson said. “It’s far away, but not too far away. I want to go there and play softball for two years. Then, I want to transfer out to a school where I can play. I’ll have my associate degree. I want to major in human services and become a social worker for people with disabilities. I have to give my mother a lot of credit. She has helped me out so much. She is the reason I made it this far.”
Hudson will go a long way with help from her mother as well as some assistance from the Jackie Robinson Scholarship.
Marian Anderson Recreation Center team taught lessons of sport’s greats
Steve Bandura, program director at the Marian Anderson Recreation Center in South Philadelphia, believes it is important to teach Black baseball history to the kids in his program.
Baseball has become a key sport at the recreation center. Bandura holds a weekly class on Friday nights to educate the kids on the history of baseball as it connects to African-American history.
The class is in preparation for its “Anderson Monarch Barnstorming Tour.”
Since 1997 – the 50th Anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the Major League Baseball “color line” playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers – the Anderson Monarchs have toured across the country to play local youth teens in addition to visiting various historic sites. The Monarchs are scheduled to tour again this summer.
“In order to put the Negro Leagues and Jackie Robinson's historic accomplishment in context, the kids need to understand everything that led up to those points in history,” Bandura said. “Just teaching about Jackie doesn't give them an idea of why circumstances were the way they were and why it was such a great achievement.”
Bandura prepares each class with the goal to cover a particular period of time. The group gathers each week sitting in rows of chairs in a large room at the recreation center.
Bandura shows a presentation that consists of facts, video clips, pictures and various documentaries. He presents Ken Burns’ Documentary “Baseball” as a good guideline to his team.
Each week, the parents alternate, which one or two of them will collaborate to provide food and drinks for the kids.
Of those parents is Donna Deramus, mother of 10-year-old Demetrius who plays for the Monarchs. Deramus is pleased with the history class and feels her son is gaining a lot from the class.
“I really think for the kids it’s a great opportunity for them to go back and see how it actually started,” she said. “I think it will make them better for playing the game.”
Deramus noted the parents all have a close relationship with one another. The team works as a second family and she feels the class is excellent for their education.
Demetrius attends Independence Charter School and Deramus believes his involvement at Marian Anderson has helped him stay focused with his academics.
The first classes began with uncovering the history of baseball in the 19th Century and the first pioneers of the game.
The class provides opportunity for discussions such as the hypocrisy of the North pushing for civil rights in the South, while still refusing the Black team the Philadelphia Pythians, participation in their league, according to Bandura.
As Bandura went through his presentation he posed questions in the form of a trivia game to keep his team entertained. Hands raised eagerly as the kids competed to answer the questions to what they’ve learned.
In the future, Bandura plans to engage the kids with more films as they enter the era of the 20’s and 30’s and will introduce famous players such as Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Buck O’Neil, Satchell Paige and Josh Gibson.
As they enter the era of World War II, Bandura will show films The Tuskegee Airmen and The Court Martial of Jackie Robinson.
Bandura and the team at Marian Anderson believe knowing one’s history is essential to excelling.
“By the time we embark on our tour in July and visit the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City and meet former Negro League players, the kids will have a solid database of knowledge to draw from,” he said.
April 10 marked the 66th anniversary of Jackie Robinson signing with Major League Baseball’s Brooklyn Dodgers, effectively breaking the color barrier. However, it did not come without a cost, and “42,” open today in theaters nationwide is a riveting and emotionally charged account of a moment in history that made it possible for superstars such as Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Lou Brock, Dave Winfield, Ken Griffey, Jr., Kirby Puckett, Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard to play Major League Baseball (MLB).
The captivating and compelling screenplay by Brian Helgeland, who also directed the film, begins on a high note, with the courtly Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) proposing to his girlfriend Rachel (Nicole Beharie) over the telephone. She accepts, and the young couple optimistically begins their new life together.
Shortly thereafter, Robinson, who is enjoying a stellar career in the Negro League is approached by Brooklyn Dodgers executive Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford), who is contemplating the daring decision to integrate the team, and begins to search for the perfect player to fit the bill. Perusing the Negro League rosters and poring over statistics, he decides that Jackie Robinson has the talent and temperament to take on such a daunting task.
The film candidly dramatizes the well-documented racism, prejudice and unabashed cruelty that Robinson and in many cases, his wife, was routinely subjected to as a Black pioneer in a “white man’s sport.” During a frank discussion with Rickey, he asked, “Why me?” and his boss unflinchingly ticked off all the reasons why he felt that Robinson was the right man for the job, when superb players like Satchell Paige and Roy Campanella were willing and available.
The Philadelphia Phillies were the most zealous in their racial vitriol and violations, with their manager Ben Chapman (Alan Tudyk) standing nearby whenever Robinson was at bat, and chanting, “Ni**er, ni**er, ni**er” at the top of his lungs, as if it were the lyrics to a song. His display was so disgusting that even Robinson’s teammates, who were also racists, were embarrassed by it.
Adding continuity to the story is Wendell Smith (Andre Holland), a newspaper reporter who followed Robinson from the beginning of his career. Though suspect at first, he was struggling with his own issues with discrimination, and soon became a trusted friend.
While the story in itself is nothing short of amazing, there aren’t enough superlatives to describe Chadwick Boseman’s protrayal of Robinson, who actually played himself in “The Jackie Robinson Story,” which was released on May 16, 1950, and featured Ruby Dee as Jackie’s wife, Rae Robinson. While that version soft-pedaled the plight of baseball’s Black pioneer, Helgeland’s interpretation does not back off from the harsh reality of racism, allowing Robinson, who showed super-human tolerance and control in public, to lash out in anger and frustration behind closed doors. There was a dignity behind Boseman’s piercing gaze indicating that while Robinson was tolerant, he was by no means a pushover.
Harrison Ford was so immersed in the character of Branch Rickey that I didn’t even realize that he played the role until the credits rolled. As a man who was apparently way ahead of his time, Rickey had no illusions about the nature of white America, and indeed set out to exorcise a few demons of his own. His performance was quiet and captivating. Nicole Beharie, an emerging actress who has appereared in “Woman Thou Art Loosed: On the 7th Day” and Steve McQueen’s “Shame,” showed the strength and sensuality that was absolutely essential to stand by a man in such a groundbreaking position.
Even if you have never seen a Major League Baseball game, “42” is a must-see. While the content is historic, Helgeland’s handling of it is not “preachy” and Boseman’s portayal of Robinson is brilliant. This is an engaging, enlightening and entertaining piece of cinema. (Rated: PG-13)
The movie “42,” the life story of baseball great Jackie Robinson, will be in theaters around the country on Friday, April 12.
It’s a movie that everybody should see.
It’s a film that every kid should see who isn’t familiar with Robinson’s story or what he accomplished in his career. It’s a movie for all of today’s major league players for whom Robinson blazed the trail as one of this country’s great pioneers. It’s also a look back in history for all of us to remember this great player and what he stood for.
Robinson broke the color line in Major League Baseball on April 15, 1947 when the Brooklyn Dodgers signed him to a contract. It was certainly a historic moment when Robinson integrated the game of baseball.
The movie highlights this significant part of American history. Branch Rickey, Dodgers president, made Robinson the first Black player in Major League Baseball. Rickey inked him to a minor league deal in 1945. Robinson, like many outstanding African Americans, was playing in the Negro League. He played for the Kansas City Monarchs.
Rickey had his eye on Robinson. He had his scout watch him play for the Monarchs. He played for the Montreal Royals in the minors. He played in a lot of small towns in the South. That’s where Robinson got his first taste of discrimination. He played in Sanford, Fla., where he had to stay in the home of a Black family in that community. He could not stay in a hotel.
Rickey knew Robinson would be subjected to all kinds of racism and bigotry, but he didn’t want him to fight back. He knew that’s exactly what people wanted to see. Rickey had planned to end racial segregation in Major League Baseball. He could have signed any number of great players from the Negro League, but he thought Robinson would be more suited to take on the challenge of shattering the color barrier in baseball.
Robinson was well educated. He went to UCLA, where he starred in football, basketball, track and field and baseball. Rickey figured he had the temperament to play baseball at a high level and deal with all the racial fallout.
Although Robinson experienced racism in the minors, it was nothing like what he faced in the majors. First of all, his teammates didn’t even want to play with him. They had put together a petition indicating their disapproval of his playing for the Dodgers.
Teams did everything to show their resentment of Robinson’s being in the majors. Pitchers deliberately threw at his head in the batter’s box. In addition, fans, teams and players shouted all kinds of racial comments when he was on the field. You have to see the movie to hear all the things that were said to him.
The film highlighted an individual who played a big part in Robinson’s success. His name was Wendell Smith. He was a longtime baseball writer for The Pittsburgh Courier, one of the most prominent Black newspapers in the country. Smith chronicled Robinson’s career going back to the Negro League. It was his articles in the Courier that grabbed Rickey’s attention as well as the nation’s.
Like Robinson, he also experienced racism. He wasn’t allowed to sit in the press box with the other sportswriters. He would sit in the stands to cover the games, holding his typewriter in his lap. Smith was the first African American to join the Baseball Writers Association of America. He’s also in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
There’s a lot everybody can learn from this film. Robinson had to endure a lot of racism. He needed a thick skin to survive during that time. He was a great baseball player, but a far better human being for what he had to go through.
The documentary “Harvard Park,” which features former major league baseball stars Darryl Strawberry and Eric Davis, should inspire a lot of African-American kids to play more baseball in the inner city. The sports film shows how a neighborhood park in the tough section of South Central Los Angeles in the 1980s became a destination for a number of baseball legends.
BET will celebrate the 65th anniversary of Jackie Robinson Day on Sunday, April 15, with a premiere of this documentary at 11 a.m. and on Centric at 11 p.m. The 88-minute film distributed by Sony Pictures TV shows a park that provided a safe haven for many players to sharpen their baseball skills and come back to the park where they worked with others during their professional careers.
The park played a big role in developing the careers of ex-major league standouts like Strawberry, who played for the New York Mets and New York Yankees, and Davis, who starred for the Cincinnati Reds as well as other prominent major and minor league players.
The film shows how Strawberry and Davis became friends playing at Harvard Park. The other baseball standouts that played there included Chris Brown, Barry Larkin, Kenny Williams, Damon Farmar, DeJon Watson, Frank Thomas, Royce Clayton, Lenny Harris and others. A number of players looked back at the impact playing baseball in a neighborhood where they came from, where they could play during the offseason and teach other players how to improve their games. Harvard Park was the place to be if you wanted to become a great player.
Strawberry and Davis, Renard Young and Diane Sokolow serve as executive producers on this documentary, directed by Bryan Coyne. Harvard Park is produced by Wild Life Productions in association with the Sokolow Company, and is distributed by Sony Pictures Television.
Strawberry and Davis provided a great deal of insight into how they became outstanding baseball players from this urban park. With this weekend belonging to Robinson, who broke the color line on April 15, 1947, as the first African-American player in the majors, Strawberry and Davis offer their views on his trailblazing efforts.
“My thing with Jackie is I said it before and I continue to say it,” Strawberry said. “There was no Darryl Strawberry if it wasn’t for Jackie. If he hadn’t crossed that line and been able to take the negative criticisms, the racial slurs and all the things and no handshakes and no one wanted to be his friend. He probably had to be alone every night and separate places when he traveled and stuff because of the color of his skin. Players today, and every player of color, should know the real history of them putting on a major league baseball uniform. They shouldn’t just run out there thinking they’re entitled to wear that uniform.
“There was a man who came way, way before you. I don’t think anyone has ever told them the history. There’s one that came way, way before you. There was one who opened the door for every player that had some type of different color of skin to play major league baseball. He’s the reason why you’re putting on this uniform. He’s the reason why your paycheck is the way it is today. He’s the reason why my paycheck was the way it was when I played baseball. I was always grateful for the fact that his wonderful wife Rachel, they had to endure so much negative criticism about him. I can just imagine. I couldn’t bear it. I don’t think I would have wanted to bear what he went through at that particular time.”
Davis echoed Strawberry’s sentiments on Robinson.
“Whether the Black players today believe it or not, every player that came after Jackie is a part of Jackie,” Davis said. “It should always be there. But what bothers me is that it’s not mentioned enough. Two weeks before Jackie, a week after and that’s all that we get like it’s pinpointed to special occasions or where we represent what Jackie is all about and what he stood for and what him and his family endured.
“I couldn’t start to even fathom what it was like. I got a small peek or dose of racism compared to what Jackie did when I came in during the early ’80s. And to have someone as graceful, and encourageable as Jackie was, and people talk about it all the time. Jackie probably wasn’t the greatest Negro League player, but he was probably the best suited for what he was about to endure at that particular time mentally beyond his years. When Branch Rickey chose Jackie, it wasn’t for the moment. It was for days like now in 2012 where Blacks have that opportunity, and not just Blacks, but guys from Latin America, to have that opportunity because of the color of their skin.”
Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins has made a big impression with his play on the field. Now, Rollins seems to be getting some recognition for what he has done in the community.
Major League Baseball and Chevrolet has recently announced that Rollins was named the Phillies nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award. The award was established by MLB to honor Clemente’s legacy and to recognize the local club nominees of the Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet.
Rollins is one of 30 club finalists for the annual award, which recognizes a MLB player who best represents the game of baseball through positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanship and community involvement.
The award pays tribute to Clemente’s achievement and character by recognizing current players who clearly understand the importance of helping others. The award is named for the 15-time MLB all-star and Hall of Famer who died in a plane crash on New Year’s Eve 1972 while attempting to deliver supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.
The Jimmy Rollins Family Foundation, which began in 2009, strives to help children and young adults living with arthritis by providing funds and awareness about the disease. The foundation also supports families that are struggling financially to help their children in extracurricular activities.
In an effort to raise awareness and funds to benefit the Rollins Family Foundation and the Arthritis Foundation, Rollins and his wife, Johari, host an annual Celebrity BaseBOWL Tournament at Lucky Strike Bowling Lanes in Philadelphia. The event, which raised more than $178,000 in August and nearly $1 million since 2006, has helped send children to Camp JRA (Juveniles Reaching Achievement), a week-long camp for kids ages 8-18 with arthritis and other rheumatic diseases.
The foundation hosted its first offseason fundraiser called Havana Nights in November 2011 to benefit Prevent Child Abuse Pennsylvania. The Cuban-themed evening featured Rollins and celebrity guests, a Cuban Salsa Band, dancing and other entertainment including a silent auction. The event raised more than $175,000.
Rollins developed JRoll’s Aces in 2007 to reward children in disadvantaged areas excelling in the classroom. Rollins meets with groups on the field during batting practice, answers questions and signs autographs. He also provides each participant with a game ticket, a t-shirt and a food voucher.
In addition to his other efforts, Rollins has honored top readers since 2002 with the JRoll’s readers program for their dedication to literacy during the summer months. He annually helps the Phillies salute Jackie Robinson’s legacy as well as honors the surviving members of the Philadelphia Stars Negro League team.
Rollins will be recognized before the Phillies play the Atlanta Braves on Sept. 23 on the field at Citizens Bank Park. In addition to being honored as the club’s nominee, he will receive the Phillies Community Service Award.
“It is a real honor to be the 2012 Phillies’ Roberto Clemente Award nominee,” Rollins said in a statement. “Just to be considered for this award means so much to me when I think about the man named for it and all he stood for. I hope that the efforts of my foundation will help continue the tradition of ballplayers giving back to the community for many years to come.”
Baseball fans from the Philadelphia area will have the opportunity to take swings from home plate at the 15th annual Richie Ashburn Memorial Home Runs for Heart on May 1 and 2 (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.), making them the first amateur sluggers to take a spot on the soil of the 2011 National League East champions.
The American Heart Association event was designed to give ordinary citizens the chance to live out their major league dreams. It made its debut in 1997, after the sudden passing of Hall of Famer Richie Ashburn, who succumbed to heart disease. In addition, the event also honors long time Phillies announcer Harry Kalas, who also died of heart disease.
Held annually at Citizens Bank Park, Home Runs for Heart is a derby contest (batting only) that enables participants to step up to home plate and swing for the fences. After batting and catching fly balls in the outfield or “shagging,” participants can visit the Phillies clubhouse, take a tour of the facility, pose for pictures with the Phillies Ball Girls and meet the Phillie Phanatic. In addition, the team, individual man and individual woman with the most home runs and the most points (based on distance) will receive prizes and special recognition.
For more information or to register, call (215) 575-5218 or visit www.heart.org/phillywalk and click on Home Runs For Heart. Proceeds from Home Runs for Heart benefit the local research and community education efforts of the American Heart Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania.
Jackie Robinson celebration
Coaches, players and families are invited to a Jackie Robinson Celebration with a movie presentation starring the legend on Saturday, April 21 at 3 p.m. at the Papa Playground Recreation Center, 68th Street and Lansdowne Avenue. The event is presented by the Delaware and Pennsylvania chapters of Metropolitan Junior Baseball league (MJBL) in partnership with The Winning Team Group (TWTG) and Papa Playground Advisory Council/Youth Sports as part of a celebration by other MJBL chapters throughout the country to honor the 65th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball. Advance registration is free with limited admittance for onsite registration at the door for only $5.00. Refreshments are available with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the local state chapters of MJBL. Registration forms and information are available at www.thewinningteamgroup.com or by calling (215) 990-3188.
Former E&S star Keisha Hampton picked 22nd overall in WNBA Draft
Keisha Hampton, former Engineering and Science star, who played her college basketball for DePaul, was the 22nd pick overall in the WNBA Draft. Hampton was selected by the Seattle Storm.
Hampton, who played just 12 games this season due to exploratory knee surgery, finished her DePaul career with 1,574 points, 568 rebounds and 227 assist. Prior to the start of the season, Hampton won a gold medal with the USA World University Games team and was a unanimous preseason All-Big East selection.
Shey Peddy selected as the 23rd pick in the WNBA Draft
Shey Peddy, Temple senior basketball star, was selected with the 23rd pick overall in the WNBA Draft by the Chicago Sky. She becomes just the third-ever player from the program to be drafted by the league, now entering its 16th season. Peddy was the first pick for the Sky in this year’s draft, in the second round.
Juan Fernandez signs professional contract with top Italian team
Juan Fernandez, Temple senior guard, has signed a multi-year contract to play professional basketball for EA7 Olimpia Milano, a top-level Italian team. One of the top Lega Basket Series A teams, Olimpia Milano has won 25 Italian championships, four Italian Cups, and three Euroleague championships.
Fernandez, who just finished playing in the Portsmouth Invitational this past weekend, finished his career at Temple ranked among the all-time leaders in assists with 424 (7th), three-pointers made 207 (7th) and three-point percentage (.402, 2nd). The two-time All-Atlantic 10 Conference and All-Philadelphia Big 5 selection also scored 1,247 points to place 33rd on Temple’s all-time scoring list.
Fernandez, a two-time academic all-conference honoree, will graduate from Temple in the summer with a degree in broadcast journalism.