NEW YORK (AP) -Sixty years after Jackie Robinson first wore No. 42 in Ebbets Fields, a group of Brooklyn Little Leaguers will wear the pioneering ballplayer's number in a game set for the White House lawn.
The 7-year-olds, after finishing their first season of organized ball, square off July 15 against a team from Los Angeles in a tribute to Robinson's legacy as the first black major league baseball player, officials from Little League International announced Friday at a Brooklyn news conference.
``It will be an overwhelming experience,'' said Malik Means, one of the Brooklyn squad's three coaches. ``The bus ride to Washington, the tour of the White House, meeting face to face with the president. The first pitch will be awe-inspiring.''
Means was speaking metaphorically, since the two teams - representing the bi-coastal homes of Robinson's Dodgers - are playing a tee ball game on the South Lawn of the White House. The California team will also take the field for the one-inning contest with all of its players wearing No. 42.
Major league baseball officially retired Robinson's number 10 years ago on the 50th anniversary of his debut. In April, to mark the 60th anniversary of the Hall of Famer's first game, more than 200 major league players, coaches and managers wore No. 42.
Brooklyn's Joseph Jiminez already has a game plan for his meeting with President Bush, who will provide each player, manager and coach with a baseball bearing his signature.
``I'm going to give him a gift and a hug, and get an autograph and a picture,'' said the 7-year-old third baseman/outfielder. The tee ball game will highlight a three-day trip for both teams, with their expenses covered by the New York Mets, the Los Angeles Dodgers and two trustees of the Little League Foundation.
Both teams are part of the Little League's Urban Initiative, which endeavors to promote the game among minorities, single-parent homes and poor areas. A recent study determined that only 8.4 percent of major league players last season were black, the lowest level in at least two decades.
Means said the trip, along with providing a once-in-a-lifetime experience, would allow the coaches to teach the boys about Robinson's legacy.
``We haven't done it yet, but we definitely will,'' said Means. ``The big thing we stress with our team is character. This is a reward for all our hard work through the year.''

Recent MLB Discussions

Top MLB Public Bets

MLB Top Stories

Thumbnail Kershaw tries to keep visitors' run going The Cubs seized a 3-2 edge in the NLCS by winning Games 4 and 5 in Los Angeles. Will Clayton Kershaw be able to save the Dodgers’...
Thumbnail North Siders' bats rise as NCLS progresses Anthony Rizzo is still batting well below .200 in the playoffs. Yet the Chicago first baseman seems to be heating up at precisely...
Thumbnail Hosts ask Urias to give them 3-1 NLCS edge Tonight, Julio Urias will make history in Game 4 of the NLCS. The Dodgers simply hope that it’s for all the right reasons.
Thumbnail Francona needs relief corps to thrive again The Blue Jays suddenly have life in the NLCS. Now, though, can they truly put fear in the Indians and send the festivities back to northern...
Thumbnail Arrieta tries to lift visitors at Chavez Ravine After getting punched in the mouth in Game 1 of the NLCS, the Dodgers struck back on Sunday night. Can they keep running with the Cubs as the action...
More inMLB Articles  

MLB Team Pages