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Sox to honor Jackie Scholars, contest winners

Sox to honor Jackie Scholars, contest winners

BOSTON -- The Red Sox will honor Jackie Robinson Scholars as well as Jackie Robinson essay contest winners during a pregame ceremony Monday morning.

With Major League baseball celebrating Jackie Robinson Day, the Red Sox will also have players and on-field staff wearing No. 42 for the 11:05 a.m. ET game against the Rays.

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In 1997, under the direction of Commissioner Bud Selig, Robinson's No. 42 was retired across all of Major League Baseball in an unprecedented tribute.

Rookie outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. talked about what Robinson meant to him.

"Without him, this wouldn't be possible," Bradley said. "He's a very special guy. His will and determination is what keeps us playing this game at such a high intensity."

A New York Times article recently stated that black players from the United States make up just about 8.5 percent of the Major Leagues, compared to about 19 percent at its peak in the mid-1970s.

"Basketball and football -- there are no Minor Leagues, so to speak," Bradley said. "Once you get drafted into those sports, if you're a top-notch player -- and I'm not saying you don't work at it -- but you have so many different levels in baseball and you don't have to go through that in football. You go right up to the top.

"I think it all comes down to preference. It's not really anything you can do to persuade a certain player. It's kind of what you enjoy doing. You're going to choose what you enjoy doing the most."

Jason Mastrodonato is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @jmastrodonato. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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