Jackie Robinson Day

Posted by Cheryl Nichols | 4/15/2011 03:08:00 AM | , , , | 0 comments »

Friday, April 15, 2011 marks Major League Baseball's sixth annual Jackie Robinson Day and the league celebrated the 64th anniversary of the day Jackie Robinson forever shattered Major League Baseball's color barrier. To commemorate the occasion, Robinson's retired No. 42 was once again worn by all players, coaches and umpires.

The Washington Nationals will honor Jackie Robinson on Friday, April 15 when they host the Milwaukee Brewers.  Throughout the pre-game ceremonies and inning breaks, there will be videos of local celebrities talking about how Jackie Robinson has influenced their lives. The Hats will also recognize the Jackie Robinson Scholars program.

Jackie Robinson was the first African-American to play Major League Baseball. Robinson signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers and played his first major league game at Ebbets Field on April 15, 1947 at age 28. He went on to play in six World Series with the club. He collected numerous awards with the Dodgers, including the Rookie of the Year in 1947 and the Most Valuable Player in 1949, and won a World Series ring in 1955.

AP Photo

Major League Baseball Retired Number 42 in 1997 and only one player still wears Number 42 today --  Yankees Closer Mariano Rivera.  When Rivera retires, Number 42 will only be worn on Jackie Robinson Days.

A Few Thoughts on Honoring Jackie Robinson from around MLB….

See tweets at @MLBIAM42.

Jerry Hairston Jr. (Nationals utilityman; Along with his brother Scott Hairson, Mets OF) [Their grandfather, Sam Hairston, played in the Negro Leagues, eventually becoming the first African-American to play for the White Sox in 1951, but only after Robinson paved the way four years earlier.]  Jerry Hariston Jr. reflects, "I remember someone a couple of years ago told me that we're the last descendants of the Negro Leagues. We're very proud of what my grandfather did. Without Jackie Robinson, none of it could have been possible. I'm so proud to wear No. 42 today."

Gary Matthews Jr. (Reds OF) - “There is going to be a kid sitting in the stands today who has no idea who Jackie Robinson is and he’s going to ask his mother or father, ‘Why is everybody wearing No. 42?’” Matthews said. “And that father, that mother, is going to tell their son or daughter who Jackie Robinson was and why we are wearing 42 today. That, to me, is what this is about.”

Curtis Granderson (Yankees OF) - "The big thing about this day is that Jackie not only opened up doors for African-Americans to play, but minorities in general," said Granderson, the new Yankees center fielder. "When he came over from the Negro Leagues, it opened doors and paved the way for a lot of great things to start in the United States. Look at how far we've come, and still, also, how far we have to go."

 Ozzie Guillen (White Sox Manager) - "Jackie Robinson is special for everyone in baseball," Guillen said. "I think Jackie opened a lot of good things for baseball. He's one of the reasons we're making that much money, especially for me, especially for people from my country [Venezuela]. I think he went through a lot to make our lives better. A lot of people have to thank him, because he had the guts to do what he did."

Cito Gaston (Former Blue Jays Manager and first African-American manager to win a World Series [Blue Jays 1992]) - "I think it's a very important day," he said. "Without Mr. Robinson, I wouldn't be sitting here. President Obama would not be the president of the United States. He was there even before Martin Luther King Jr., when you really think about it. He went through a lot to make it better for myself and other minorities."

Justin Upton (Diamondbacks OF) - "What Jackie Robinson did for the game, giving us an opportunity to play the game, it's an honor to wear his number."

Check out the Official Site of Jackie Robinson and even listen to his final interview on October 18, 1972.