This Opening Day will be a time for hope and support.
Major League Baseball announced that the first three days of the regular season will honor the 20 children and six educators whose lives were lost in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown, Conn.
All 30 clubs will open their schedules with prominent reminders of the offseason tragedy, starting with Sunday night's Rangers-Astros opener and continuing through the April 1-2 Opening Day games. All players, managers, coaches, umpires and on-field personnel will wear a symbolic ribbon patch, and there will be a pregame moment of silence.
"The unimaginable tragedy that befell Newtown, Conn., will never be forgotten," Commissioner Bud Selig said. "Major League Baseball, all 30 clubs and baseball fans from around the country and Canada offer our deepest sympathies and our unbridled support as the community continues to heal from this heartbreaking day."
The patch features the official seal of Newtown, along with a black memorial ribbon and 26 stars, signifying one for every victim, lining each side of the patch.
For all 30 clubs, MLB.com will auction an authenticated jersey signed by all players and coaches on each respective Opening Day roster. All proceeds will go to the Sandy Hook School Support Fund, created by United Way of Western Connecticut and Newtown Savings Bank immediately after the tragedy, to provide support services to surviving families and the Newtown community.
MLB, MLB Advanced Media and MLB Network encourage fans to donate to that fund by texting "NEWTOWN" to 80888.
In addition, the Rangers announced Friday that Robbie Parker, the father of 6-year-old Emilie Parker, one of the victims, will throw the ceremonial first pitch prior to the team's home opener on April 5. Parker grew up in North Texas and took Emilie to several Rangers games in various cities. The father will be accompanied by wife Alissa and daughters Madeline and Samantha for the first-pitch ceremony.
"I am so proud to be a Ranger fan, because I know that as a fan, I actually belong to a community," Parker said. "I am glad I was able to share the community with my precious daughter, and that the same community has reached out to her and let our family know that she is remembered and loved. Thank you for all you have done to support our family through this time."
Thanks to the work of several groups in Texas, thousands of dollars have been donated by individuals in North Texas to Emilie's Fund, which assisted families of those impacted by the tragedy.
On Dec. 14, 2012, Adam Lanza, 20, shot the 26 individuals to death at the school and killed himself as police arrived. He had fatally shot his mother, Nancy Lanza, that morning at their Newtown home. The tragedy sparked an unabated national conversation about gun violence.