The Los Angeles Dodgers paid tribute to Jackie Robinson Monday night, then defeated the San Francisco Giants, 9-1, before a crowd announced at 43,713 in their first game at Dodger Stadium under their new ownership.
Earvin "Magic" Johnson, the former basketball star who is the most famous member of the group that paid Frank McCourt a record $2 billion for the team, escorted Jackie Robinson's widow Rachel, his daughter Sharon, grandson Jesse Simms and his Brooklyn Dodger teammate Don Newcombe onto the field.
A ceremonial first pitch was thrown by Newcombe, a special adviser to the chairman with the Dodgers and the 1949 National League Rookie of the Year and 1956 National League Most Valuable Player Award and Cy Young Award recipient.
"I am here thanks to the sacrifices made by Jackie Robinson, Don Newcombe and others of their era that overcame similar hardships and turned challenges into opportunities, creating a Dodger legacy that endures today," Johnson said.
"Our debt to Jackie for his impact on society and athletes like me can never be repaid. It will truly be an honor to stand with Rachel and Don as I join the Dodgers in our mission to make Jackie proud by doing everything in our power to help this iconic team return to its rightful place atop Major League
Born Rachel Isum in Los Angeles in 1922, she graduated from Manual Arts High School and met Robinson in 1941 when they were both attending UCLA. They married in 1946, one year before he broke Major League Baseball's color line.
Rachel Robinson was a career nurse, receiving a master's degree in psychiatric nursing from New York University and worked as a researcher at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine's Department of Social and Community Psychiatry.
Rachel Robinson was also director of nursing for the Connecticut Mental Health Center and an assistant professor of nursing at Yale University.
Following her husband's death in 1972 at the age of 53, Rachel Robinson incorporated the Jackie Robinson Development Corporation, which was founded to build and manage housing for people with moderate and low incomes.
The game also marked the start of the $5 reduction in the general parking price to $10. Other decreases could be coming.
"I had a very good, constructive conversation with the concessionaire last week and we hope to look into those things as well," Stan Kasten, the new team president, said Wednesday when the members of the Guggenheim Baseball Management Team were introduced at a Dodger Stadium news conference, referring to Levy Restaurants.
"We're very mindful that we become really successful when we can fill this ballpark up. We know affordability is a big factor in people's minds and we're going to pay a lot of attention to it."
Kasten said he hopes that under the new management, fans "will sense and feel more of a welcoming, more of an appreciation maybe than they did in the past."
Kasten pledged to be on Dodger Stadium's concourses every night "to talk to fans, to understand what they like, what they don't like."
"I like to brag about our accessibility," said Kasten, a former president of Major League Baseball's Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals, the NBA's Atlanta Hawks and NHL's Atlanta Thrashers.
"It's an important thing. Fans should know who I am, should know where I am all the time, that I can be reached and that they matter to me."
Another element of the increased access is the establishment of an email address for fans to send suggestions, email@example.com.
There will also be "a lot more opportunities for autographs," Kasten said.
Mark Walter, the controlling partner of Guggenheim Baseball Management, pledged "to do everything we can and utilize all the resources that exist" to
make Dodger Stadium safer.
"There are a lot of resources to make sure that this is a family friendly environment, that people can come to this game and enjoy it and that everyone has respect for everybody else," Walter said.
"Fans have responsibility too, but we will do everything necessary to make sure that's the case."
When asked what would be done to shorten lines at concession stands, long a complaint among fans, Walter responded, "That's probably outside of my area of expertise," but said "we can get better technology in the stadium'' allowing fans to "order things from your seat and have it delivered."
"I know if you can put a man on the moon, you can fix that," Walter said. Kasten said he plans to examine Dodger Stadium's video and electronics
"I go to other stadiums and I see what's available in terms of video and electronics to be at a higher level almost every place we go," Kasten
"I want to understand why that is, what can be done about it, if anything. I want it to be the best it can be. 21st century fans expect that. If they expect it, I want to deliver it."