The San Diego Padres and the Masons of California partnered with Reality Changers to honor Johnny Ritchey, the “Jackie Robinson of the West Coast,” and provide 10 scholarships to Reality Changers college students. Students were celebrated on the field before the April 17th Padres home game!
President and CEO Tamara Y. Craver and scholarship recipient Haset Moloro were both featured on ABC10 News San Diego (video above). Friar Wire and NBC 7 San Diego covered the story as well. The press release from the San Diego Padres is included below
Padres To Wear Pacific Coast League Uniforms on April 17
Johnny Ritchey Scholarship winners will also be honored in pregame ceremony
SAN DIEGO — Today, the San Diego Padres announced they will be wearing their Pacific Coast League uniforms on April 17 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Johnny Ritchey breaking the professional baseball color barrier on the West Coast, as well as what would have been his 100th birthday year.
The uniforms, which were worn by the 1948 PCL Padres, feature navy blue script over the chest outlined in red with piping along the neck, arms and buttons, while the navy blue hat highlights a red “S” for San Diego. Following the April 17 contest, the game-used PCL jerseys will be signed by Padres players and auctioned off here, with proceeds benefiting the Padres’ Johnny Ritchey Scholarship Program. Limited commemorative PCL Padres apparel will also be available to fans at the Padres New Era team store at Petco Park beginning this week.
“We are honored to celebrate Johnny Ritchey during this significant 75th anniversary season,” said Padres CEO Erik Greupner. “Johnny was a San Diegan whose courage and bravery extended beyond breaking the color barrier to also serving his country during World War II. By wearing our 1948 Pacific Coast League uniforms on Monday night, we will honor Johnny’s legacy and accomplishments, which are a great source of pride for the Padres organization.”
Ritchey, “the Jackie Robinson of the West Coast,” became the first African American player in the Pacific Coast League with his hometown Padres. His debut came just one year after Jackie Robinson broke the major league color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Ritchey played for the Padres as a catcher in 1948 and 1949 and attended both San Diego High School and San Diego State University prior to joining the Army in World War II.
Fans can join in the celebration by buying a Theme Game Package as part of the African American Heritage Celebration on April 17. In community partnership with Young Black and In Business and other local organizations, a Theme Game package includes a commemorative 1948 PCL hat, a donation to a local community group, and a ticket to the Braves vs. Padres game. For more information, click here.
The Padres also expanded the Johnny Ritchey Scholarship Program this season in partnership with the Masons of California and Reality Changers of San Diego to provide 10 scholarship opportunities to deserving, and often underserved, high school seniors in San Diego County who have encountered and overcome significant personal adversity in pursuit of higher education. The $10,000 scholarships will be distributed evenly over four years, and the 2023 winners will be honored in an on-field pregame ceremony at Petco Park on April 17.