Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Jackie Robinson Day

This season is the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's debut as the first African-American player to play in the Major Leagues, stepping onto Ebbets Field on April 15, 1947. April 15 has been labeled "Jackie Robinson Day" by MLB, and the weekly Sunday Night Baseball game on ESPN, which this week features the Padres and Dodgers playing in Los Angeles, will feature a Jackie Robinson tribute before the game, as well as a 90-minute pregame show starting at 630 ET on MLB.TV.
After a very well-received and successful (hopefully annual) Civil Rights Game 2 weeks ago in Memphis, this is another step by Major League Baseball to honor African-Americans in baseball. On Robinson's 50th anniversary in 1997, several players (such as Ken Griffey Jr shown above with the Mariners) wore Robinson's #42 in his honor, and his number was subsequently retired throughout all of baseball. Today, Mariano Rivera is the only remaining player who wears #42, since he was wearing the number before 1997 and he was thus grandfathered in. For this year's 60th anniversary, Ken Griffey (this time with my Reds) has initiated the campaign along with Bud Selig. Per Griffey's request, at least one player from most teams will don the #42, including Barry Bonds, Torii Hunter, Gary Sheffield, Jermaine Dye, and of course Griffey himself. Basically, anybody who feels they want to honor Robinson will be allowed to wear the number, as the Diamondbacks already have five players on board.
The ceremony at Chavez Ravine will include Robinson's widow and daughter, some of his former teammates, baseball executives, civic and industry leaders, and various Jackie Robinson Foundation scholars. I try to take a break from studio and watch Sunday Night ball at the bar whenever I can, and as with the Civil Rights Game, I will definitely be watching. These special moments in which baseball and fans get to honor tradition and witness history are few and far between, aside from All-Star weekend, and I will definitely be watching at 8pm this Sunday.
Twins L (4-2)
Brewers L (3-4)
Reds L (4-3)

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