Beyond the Bricks
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Beyond the Bricks

Dodgers to Honor 25th Anniversary of Oklahoma City Bombing in 2020

Collaboration with Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum recognizes those lost, the survivors and those changed forever in April 1995

OKC Dodgers President/General Manager Michael Byrnes (left) unveils a commemorative jersey patch the OKC Dodgers will wear on the field at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in 2020. He is joined by Oklahoma City Fire Department Major Steve Peters. Photo by Cody Roper/OKC Dodgers.

The month of April 2020 will include a solemn anniversary in Oklahoma City’s history, as this marks the 25th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing.

On April 19, 1995, 168 people tragically lost their lives in the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing in downtown Oklahoma City — just blocks from where the Oklahoma City Dodgers now play at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.

The Dodgers have collaborated with the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum to honor the 25th anniversary throughout the upcoming 2020 baseball season through four different initiatives.

The OKC Dodgers announced those plans and special events Tuesday during a special season preview press conference at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.

The OKC Dodgers announced four key initiatives to honor the 25th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing during a press conference Tuesday. Photos by Cody Roper/OKC Dodgers.

Members of the media, community leaders, Oklahoma City Dodgers partners and employees were on hand Tuesday to hear the news in the Oklahoma Fidelity Bank Club.

“We feel like there is a really important responsibility our franchise and our organization can play in having an active role in the Memorial’s efforts to remember the 168 lives lost and so many lives that were impacted,” said Michael Byrnes, OKC Dodgers President/General Manager.

Byrnes announced four different ways the OKC Dodgers would honor the Memorial’s efforts and promote the “Oklahoma Standard” during the 2020 season.

In recognition of the 168 people lost in the Oklahoma City bombing, the Dodgers will prominently display the №168 on a wall pad in left field as a way of “retiring” the number.

№168 will be displayed permanently alongside the №1 of Oklahoma City native and former New York Yankee Bobby Murcer and the №42 of Jackie Robinson, who broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier in 1947 and whose number is retired by all MLB teams.

“We really think that this makes for a lasting opportunity to continue the story telling of the lives impacted from April 1995,” Byrnes said. “We hope this will become a talking point, something we can really highlight frequently with all of the guests and fans who come to the ballpark.”

OKC Dodgers President/General Manager Michael Byrnes and Executive Director of the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum Kari Watkins unveil a rendering of a new permanent display of the №168 at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark. Photo by Cody Roper/OKC Dodgers.

Kari Watkins, Executive Director of the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum, joined Byrnes at the front of the crowd to show a mockup of what the display will look like at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark when it is officially unveiled as part of the team’s Opening Weekend in mid-April.

“Thank you to the Oklahoma City Dodgers for this important tribute,” Watkins said. “Today memory is short and people are on the go and for this community to pause and say, ‘we remember,’ says a lot to the people who lived through it.”

Byrnes also noted that the Dodgers organization felt a particular connection to remembering the 19 children whose lives were lost in the Oklahoma City bombing almost 25 years ago.

In their honor, the №19 will be retired in the Oklahoma City Dodgers Rookie League — a youth baseball league formed in 2018 in partnership with Oklahoma City Parks and Recreation to help increase youth baseball participation in the community.

OKC Dodgers President/General Manager Michael Byrnes (right) and Oklahoma City Parks and Recreation representatives Melinda McMillan and Chris Lucas display how the №19 will be retired in the OKC Dodgers Rookie League. Photo by Cody Roper/OKC Dodgers.

“This is a number that won’t be worn at all by any of the youth playing in the Rookie League,” Byrnes said. “There will be a commemorative display set up at Wheeler Park, our home of the Rookie League.”

Byrnes unveiled the number alongside representatives Melinda McMillan and Chris Lucas from Oklahoma City Parks and Recreation.

“We hope that it helps us communicate to our youth that there is an important element and memory here that we want to continue,” Byrnes said.

The third element to be incorporated with the Dodgers’ 2020 season is a commemorative jersey patch that will be worn by the Dodgers players and coaches on the field for all of Oklahoma City’s home games, starting with the team’s home opener Tuesday, April 14 against the Nashville Sounds.

As a key tie-in to the Oklahoma City baseball franchise’s history, former Oklahoma City 89ers pitcher and current Oklahoma City Fire Department Major Steve Peters helped unveil a rendering of the jersey patch at Tuesday’s event.

“It will be an important outward element of making sure we have a constant memory of what went on in April 1995,” Byrnes said of the patch.

The fourth initiative for the 2020 season involves 25 acts of kindness by the Oklahoma City Dodgers Baseball Foundation and celebrating the “Oklahoma Standard,” which includes acts of service, honor and kindness.

“Almost 25 years ago, Oklahomans rushed to provide whatever support they could, building triage centers, providing food to those who were providing services on the scene and extending a hand to those who were suffering,” said Carol Herrick, Executive Director of the Oklahoma City Dodgers Baseball Foundation.

Carol Herrick, Executive Director of the Oklahoma City Dodgers Baseball Foundation, addresses the crowd Tuesday at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark. Photo by Cody Roper/OKC Dodgers.

“These acts of kindness gave us comfort and a sense of community during a difficult time,” Herrick said. “That became known as the ‘Oklahoma Standard.’ As our way of honoring those acts of kindness, the Oklahoma City Dodgers Baseball Foundation will feature individuals, organizations and companies — 25 in total — that exemplify the spirit of the ‘Oklahoma Standard’ today.”

These recognitions will take place on the field at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark prior to Dodgers’ home games and also on the Foundation’s social media channels.

“Our goal is to amplify the good that they are doing and inspire others to continue on,” Herrick said. “Service to our community is a cornerstone of the Oklahoma City Dodgers Baseball Foundation and we want to honor those by promoting kindness across the state.”

During Opening Weekend, April 18–19, the Dodgers will honor first responders who have served ,and continue to serve, our state during First Responders Weekend.

Festivities will include live displays on the ballpark’s Mickey Mantle Plaza and Friday Night Fireworks, recognition of individuals who were instrumental on April 19, 1995, as well as the formal unveiling of the №168 display in left field with additional details to be announced in the coming weeks.

Bob Ross, Chairman of the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum, speaks at Tuesday’s press conference at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark. Photo by Cody Roper/OKC Dodgers.

“Thank you Dodgers. This is a fabulous day for the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum,” said Bob Ross, Chairman of the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum.

“We appreciate your support and really the support of the entire community,” he said. “Service, honor and kindness is the ‘Oklahoma Standard,’ so we are so glad to hear you all highlighting that. It’s something that we really want to do in the 25th anniversary year.”

Graphics courtesy of the OKC Dodgers.

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Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson

Communications Manager for the Oklahoma City Dodgers