Middletown, Fairfield baseball teams to retire Jackie Robinson’s number in new program

Two Butler County high school baseball teams will launch a national program this week to encourage high school and college baseball and softball teams to retire No. 42 in recognition of the first African-American to break Major League baseball’s color barrier.

The Nuxhall Foundation is partnering with the Cincinnati Reds Community Fund to underwrite the program to retire Baseball Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson in an effort to promote formative values of good character, the organization said.

Kim Nuxhall, president of the Nuxhall Foundation, said the new program will be initiated at the Fairfield vs. Middletown high school baseball game at 4:45 p.m. Wednesday at Lefferson Field, 2201 S. Breiel Blvd. It is spearheaded by Marlon Styles Sr., who was Nuxhall’s catcher in the minor leagues and is the father of Middletown City Schools Superintendent Marlon Styles Jr.

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“Jackie Robinson espoused courage, determination, teamwork, persistence, integrity, citizenship, justice, commitment and excellence,” Nuxhall said. “The initiative encourages promotion of these values by all parties involved in this regional character-building effort.”

All of Major League Baseball teams have retired No. 42 to honor Robinson, who was the first pro athlete in any sport to be so honored, according to MLB.

The MLB also adopted a new annual tradition, “Jackie Robinson Day,” for the first time on April 15, 2004, on which every player on every team wears No. 42. Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier on April 15, 1947 as a first baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers. He was inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1962. Robinson died in 1972.

Nuxhall said Robinson’s “nine characteristics to live by” are printed on weatherproof signs for display by participating schools. Nuxhall said the first 100 Greater Cincinnati baseball and softball programs that participate in the program will receive Jackie Robinson signs to place on their schools’ backstops.

Each school will also receive 25 complimentary Reds tickets for its varsity team.

The Nuxhall Foundation represents three initiatives begun by Reds Hall of Fame broadcaster Joe Nuxhall, including the Joe Nuxhall Miracle League Fields, the Joe Nuxhall Character Education Fund, and the Joe Nuxhall Scholarship Fund.

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