Remembering the sacrifice and impact of Jackie Robinson

Remembering the sacrifice and impact of Jackie Robinson

Major League Baseball has celebrated Jackie Robinson Day since 2004 to honor the Brooklyn Dodgers Hall of Famer's breaking of the sport's color barrier. Robinson, a Pasadena native, made baseball history when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in April, 1947.

While the Dodgers will unveil a statue of the Hall of Fame second baseman and Major League Baseball trailblazer at their home stadium tonight, the Washington Nationals outfielder will wear cleats with images of Robinson emblazoned upon them, with some of his stats listed in adjacent white spaces. It weights 700 pounds and is secured with a 150-pound steel rod.

It stands in the left field reserve plaza, where there are views of downtown Los Angeles in one direction and Elysian Park in the other.

Fittingly, Jackie Robinson is the first to be honored with a statue at Dodger Stadium. Jackie went hitless in four plate appearances and scored a run in a 5-3 win for the Dodgers over the Boston Braves.

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And each and every day of his wonderful first-year debut, Jackie Robinson endured brutal racism. The tradition continues Saturday on the 70th anniversary of the monumental moment. Beyond being an extraordinary athlete, Robinson was an extraordinary individual. He used to come home and say, 'I got a standing ovation today.' He'd be shocked. "When all of us are looking down, we will have thousands of students that bear the Jackie Robinson name". Their other son, Jackie Jr., died in a vehicle accident in 1971. He played in six World Series for the Dodgers and retired after the 1956 season. There was no way that any combination of Jim Crow antics or attitudes could deny him entrance to baseball's Holy of Holies.

He then told a second tale that he favors, one that had a direct connection to every game played in the major leagues on Saturday, when all players around baseball wore the No. 42. The players' union is making a grant this week from its Players Trust to the Jackie Robinson Foundation.

I do remember, though, when Robinson, only a few weeks after that appearance, succumbed to complications from heart disease and diabetes at age 53. While integrated teams had played together up until the late 1800s, the move by Robinson into Major League Baseball helped them transition from their "whites only" policy which had been practiced for more than 60 years.

"Baseball really has achieved a coming together of people over the 70 years and continuing that great impact on society", David Robinson said.

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