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Remembering Jackie Robinson Day

By Phil Hecken

Today marks the 71st anniversary of the day baseball changed forever, when a 28 year old rookie named Jack Roosevelt Robinson took the field in Brooklyn at Ebbets Field, making him the first player to break the “color barrier” in modern baseball. As you’re probably (and hopefully) all aware, all players on all teams will be wearing “42” on their uniforms today, with NNOB for all. The momentousness of Robinson’s achievement all those years ago cannot be understated. It’s right that we celebrate this achievement, as we have for more than decades, by honoring Robinson every April 15th.

MLB officially announced that Major League Baseball would honor Robinson on April 15 as “Jackie Robinson Day” in 2004, but the real event that began the celebration occurred on April 15, 1997, at Shea Stadium in New York. I was at that game with my pop. I’ll keep my reminiscences brief, but it was an evening I’ll never forget.

My dad, born and raised in Brooklyn until his parents (my grandparents) moved out to the Long Island suburbs, was a Dodgers fan growing up, and often regaled me with tales of the “Boys of Summer” and the exploits of Jackie Robinson. He saw Robinson play live dozens of times, and one of his favorite stories (which he must have told me a half-dozen times, always to my enjoyment) was how Jackie would end up on third base and from there, would play mind games with both pitcher and catcher by feigning stealing home on many pitches. “He’d come halfway, sometimes two-thirds of the way down the line,” my dad would recall, “before putting on the brakes and running back to third. It drove the other team nuts!” Of course, there were times when he wouldn’t stop and would end up with a theft of the plate.

So in 1997, we went on a cool April evening to Shea Stadium, the 50th anniversary of Robinson’s breaking the color barrier, and we knew something special was in the air. I’d never seen security so tight (this was pre-9/11 remember), but that was because President Clinton was at the game. So were Robinson’s widow, Rachel, and Bud Selig, the MLB Commissioner.

I don’t remember too much of the game (though I do recall saying to my dad that “I’d love to have Piazza play for the Mets some day” — and indeed a year later he’d be on the team), but I’ll never forget the festivities that took place after the 5th inning. Play was stopped as Clinton, Robinson and Selig all came out on the field, at home plate, to address the crowd (the place was packed!).

I’m not, and have never been a big fan of Bud Selig. I think that during his reign as Commissioner, he made a raft of bad decisions (including but not limited to moving the Brewers to the NL, the All Star game being for ‘home field’ advantage, interleague play, etc.), but the one he got right was the one announced on April 15, 1997, when he retired Robinson’s #42 leaguewide. In announcing it, he made a quip about the Mets Butch Huskey (who wore #42) and Mo Vaughn being allowed to “keep wearing” their numbers until they retired, but no one would wear it after them. Then he made a comment that always stuck with me: “No man is bigger than baseball,” Selig said, “except Jackie Robinson. Jackie Robinson is bigger than baseball.” He was right. Retiring Robinson’s number league-wide, in my opinion, was Selig’s best decision in his entire tenure as Commish.

President Clinton (not ironically our 42nd President) spoke next and he too heaped deserved praise on Jackie and his achievements. I’ll never forget that he was on crutches (or really, some kind of walking canes) that evening, having busted up his knee a few weeks earlier playing golf with Greg Norman. His speech was short but included this line: “It’s hard to believe that it was 50 years ago that a 28-year-old rookie changed the face of baseball and the face of America forever. Jackie Robinson scored the go-ahead run that day; we’ve all been trying to catch up ever since.” Truer words were never spoken. He added some thoughts about how Robinson’s achievements transcended baseball, then turned the mic over to Rachel Robinson. A smattering of boos had greeted both Selig and Clinton, but Rachel received a tremendous ovation.

I remember seeing a banner in the stadium that night with the words “Jackie Robinson Stadium.” The Mets future home Citi Field I’m Calling It Shea wouldn’t be built for another 10 years, and many of us even back then thought if and when the Mets left Shea, the new park should be named for Robinson. It wasn’t of course, but years later the club would name the rotunda of the new park after Robinson, and installed a giant “42” for all to see upon entering. I make a point to tap that 42 every time I get to a game.

After Rachel Robinson spoke, most of the crowd (to my dismay) departed. But they hadn’t come to see the Mets and the Dodgers play an early season game — they’d come for the “retirement” of 42. The Mets won the game 5-0 (I had to look it up even though I was there) because my remembrance of that night wasn’t contained in the box score. As it turned out, I’d see only one more Mets game with my dad (the infamous 1999 Turn Ahead The Clock game), but this one produced some of my finest memories of shared experiences with pop.

• • •

While 1997 marked the official retirement of “42” by all teams, it wasn’t until 2004 that MLB officially declared April 15 to be “Jackie Robinson Day” throughout baseball. Selig said, at the time, “On that day (April 15, 1947), Jackie brought down the color barrier and ushered in the era in which baseball became the true national pastime. Fifty years after that historic event, in April 1997, I was proud to join Rachel Robinson and President Bill Clinton at Shea Stadium to honor Jackie by retiring his uniform number 42 in perpetuity. By establishing April 15 as ‘Jackie Robinson Day’ throughout Major League Baseball, we are further ensuring that the incredible contributions and sacrifices he made — for baseball and society — will not be forgotten.” However, the day wasn’t celebrated in every park.

The day would be made permanent in 2005 when Selig officially declared that “every April 15” would be designated as Jackie Robinson Day and it would be celebrated each year throughout Major League Baseball. In 2007, the 60th anniversary of Robinson breaking the color barrier, Ken Griffey, Jr. began the tradition of every player wearing “42” on this date when he had earlier placed a phone call to Commissioner Selig requesting permission to wear “42” on this date. The request was granted.

Selig recalled the call later on:

“It was a Sunday night call, I remember,” Selig said. “I was just walking in the house, my phone was ringing. Ken called me, and it was his idea to wear No. 42 as a tribute to Jackie Robinson on the day commemorating his historic achievement.

“He asked my permission to do that, and I, of course, granted it. It told me a lot, however, about Ken, about how much he understood the history, how much he understood the impact of Jackie Robinson. So I’ve often gotten credit for something, but really he made a phone call to me on a Sunday night at home that I’ll never forget.

“And with Ken leading the way, it began to catch on with other players. Eventually it led to all on-field personnel throughout baseball wearing No. 42 on Jackie Robinson Day, a tradition that continues to this day and will continue at least as long as I’m around.”

More than 240 players joined Griffey in wearing #42 that year, and the number would increase to 330 in 2008. By 2009, every player was wearing 42.

Today, I had hoped to head out to the ballpark to see the game. Unfortunately, the weather gods did not cooperate, and it’s supposed to be chilly with a good chance for rain. I’ve only been to one JRR Day since that 1997 announcement, and each year when the Mets are home I always say I will try to go. There’s just something magical about seeing all those 42s on the field at once. It keeps Robinson’s legacy and memory alive for the younger generations who may not know of Robinson, but will surely be informed when they ask, “Why is everyone wearing 42?” Bud Selig didn’t do much good (IMO) in his tenure as Commissioner, but he hit a grand slam with this one.

• • •

Most of you know that I curl in a league in Brooklyn, and we play in Prospect Park. The route I travel to get there takes me on the Jackie Robinson Parkway (which will be getting some sweet new signage), past the cemetery where Robinson is interred, and my route to the park also passes directly in front of the Ebbets Field Apartments, which were constructed on the site of the old Ebbets Field.

Jackie Robinson remains my favorite ballplayer, as he was my dad’s. If you ever click on my twitter home page, you know I have a quote from JRR as my banner. I’ll certainly never forget his life and legacy (even though I was but 7 years old when he passed away at a much-too-young age), and certainly, hopefully, thanks to MLB and Bud Selig, countless baseball fans from now until the end of time won’t either.

So for all you guys who *hate* everybody wearing 42 for one day a year (and I think it should ONLY be worn on April 15th — if a team doesn’t have a game scheduled or the regularly scheduled game gets rained out, too bad), you need to get over it. Today is a day to remember arguably the most important and influential person in the game of modern baseball, and also in American history. You can feel free to argue, but you’d be wrong.

Thanks for indulging me today.

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Kreindler’s Korner

I had the distinct pleasure of featuring the wonderful artwork of artist Graig Kriendler on two occasions over the summer and fall of 2017.

For those who don’t wish to click the links, Graig paints baseball heroes (and regular guys) from the past, and is an immense talent.

Occasionally, I will be featuring his work on Uni Watch.

Here’s today’s offering (click to enlarge):

• • •

Title: “A Photo Finish”
Subject: Jackie Robinson and Yogi Berra, 1955
Medium: Oil on linen
Size: 30″ x 36″

There are few moments in Jackie Robinson’s career that are more iconic than this one. Heck, there are few moments in baseball history that are more iconic than this one. You’ve seen photos of it. You’ve seen prose about it. You’ve seen the grainy kinescope footage. It still never ceases to amaze me how a call from almost 65 years ago can still be debated with as much fury and vitriol as whatever might have transpired the night before.

What was most important to me in this painting was getting Jackie’s uniform right. Not in its style, as there’s nothing too complicated about the Brooklyn togs from that era, but more so how it undulated through space. With Jackie in midair after a sprint, that baggy uniform was going to be completely at the mercy of that momentum. But as it fluttered in the wind, it also had to reveal the shape of Jackie’s body. I can’t take much credit for making that happen, as Mark Kauffman (the original photographer) was responsible for that. But through texture, edge and chroma control on the painting, the illusion is pulled off that much more (in my opinion).

But no matter what I tried to do in the painting, what Kauffman captured, or what we argue about regarding the play, what’s most important is Jackie Robinson himself. The profundity of his person can never be overstated.

• • •

Thanks, Graig! You can (and should!) follow Graig on Twitter.

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Old Time Base Ball Photos

Readers will recall I featured Ronnie Bolton (who posts on Twitter as @OTBaseballPhoto and who you should definitely follow) earlier this year with some great football played on baseball field photos and writeups, and more recently with some MLB Opening Day specials. As his twitter handle implies, Ronnie’s specialty is old baseball photos.

Although today’s post is pretty much all about Jackie Robinson, Ronnie wanted to showcase some of those who followed in Jack Roosevelt Robinson’s path — while he paved it, those who followed shortly after still faced much of the racism and other pitfalls Robinson tackled.

Enjoy. Here’s Ronnie:

• • •

Larry Doby, Cleveland Municipal Stadium 1949

Overzealous Cleveland fans chase the Indians newest star Larry Doby through the parking lot of Cleveland Municipal Stadium, an experience that Doby probably never thought was possible just a few years before.

On July 5, 1947, Larry Doby became the first black player in the American League, with a game in Chicago at Comiskey Park. Before the game that day, Doby met his new teammates for the first time. “I walked down that line, stuck out my hand, and very few hands came back in return,’ Doby later recalled. ‘Most of the ones that did were cold-fish handshakes, along with a look that said, ‘You don’t belong here.’

Larry Doby with teammate Monte Irvin, when both played for the Newark Eagles, 1946

Jackie Robinson and Doby took the high road and were never deterred in their purpose. Thanks to Jackie, Doby was the first black to walk across those barriers of segregation and soon more would be inspired to follow.


Satchel Paige, Cleveland Municipal Stadium, July 9, 1948

Satchel Paige finally gets his well deserved and long over due chance as he makes his Major League debut on July 9th,1948. At the age of 42, playing for the Cleveland Indians in front of 34,780 Satchel came in as relief in the fifth-inning, he went two innings, giving no earned runs on two hits and a strikeout. Despite his debut the Indians lost 5-3 to the lowly St Louis Browns.

For the season Satchel made 21 appearances including seven starts, throwing 72.2 innings, while giving up 61 hits and just two home runs. He finished the season with a 6-1 record and a 2.48 ERA, only Gene Bearden(2.43) had a lower ERA on the Indians staff.

That season Satchel, along with Larry Doby, became the first African-Americans to win a World Series ring when the Indians defeated the Boston Braves in six games.

Cleveland Municipal Stadium, 7/21/49- Indians’ Satchel Paige pitching against the Yankees in a 5-3 loss. Paige came in at top of the 8th to relieve Gene Bearden and finished the game


Luke Easter

When it came to pure power, few if any in the history of the game could match the brawn of Luke Easter’s bat. That wasn’t more evident than in 1948 while playing for the Homestead Grays, he would become the first player ever to hit a home run into the Polo Ground’s center field bleachers.

It was that power along with a .363 batting average in 1948 that started attracting attention toward the first baseman’s way and one in the form of Cleveland Indians owner Bill Veeck, who would purchase Easter’s contract from the Grays. After tearing up the PCL in 1949 with the San Diego Padres hitting 25 home runs and batting .363, the 34-year-old rookie was ready and in 1950 Easter would become the tenth African-American to enter the Majors after Jackie Robinson became the first.

In his first three seasons with the Indians, Easter averaged 29 home runs and 102 runs batted in as well as hitting the longest home in the history of Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium, the gargantuan blast traveled 477 feet and cleared the scoreboard in right field.

• • •

Thanks, Ronnie. He’ll be back periodically with more wonderful old photos and the backstories that go with them.

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And now a few words from Paul: In case you missed it a few days ago, we have a bunch of new Naming Wrongs shirts that are now available for your consideration (including the Gund design shown at right, which you can click to enlarge). Check them out here.

And while we’re at it, don’t forget that our Cinco de Mayo shirt, featuring the Uni Watch script in Spanish, is also available. You’ll need to order this one fairly soon in order to get it in time for the holiday (which is also Kentucky Derby Day this year). It’s available here.

If you don’t want to buy a shirt, that’s fine. But Uni Watch could use your support, so it would be great if you’d please consider buying a membership card, or a limited-edition print. You could even make a donation — full details here.

Thanks for listening. We now return you to your regularly scheduled Phil-osophical treatise.

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Uni Watch News Ticker
By Phil

Baseball News: The great Shannon Shark, who runs the “Mets Police” blog, has put together a look at past Mets wearing 42 unis for JRR day. … Great spot by Robert Hayes who writes, “Looks like you two can add Lou Camilli to your list of baseball players who have worn pins! (That baseball card is from the 1972 Topps set, although it looks like the picture was taken during the 1970 season) he only played in MLB w/Cleveland from ‘69-‘72.” He adds it would also line up with this piece that Paul wrote back in February about Sam McDowell wearing an American Flag pin. … On Friday night, Nelson Cruz wore the ‘wrong’ cap (from Matt Gurnow). Here’s him noticing (from John Scukanec). … Here’s a couple nifty old (what look like newspaper clipping) photos, from Ray Hund, who captioned each one on his own: 1. The caption says Forbes Field but it looks like someone’s backyard; 2. Nifty…I want one for the front of my house; and, 3. Funny as hell that this newspaper thought the poses would disguise these players. … Marshall Softball were wearing pink jerseys (with the Titans old font[!]) yesterday (from RL Ely). … “I saw the a photo in an article in SD (Software Development) Times,” says Chris Bain. Being an Indians fan, I recognized it as clearly being the Tribe but with logos and names removed. With the postseason patch on Andrew Miller’s hat and what appears to be a Blue Jays logo on a fan in the stands, I hypothesized is was from the Tribe-Blue Jays series in 2016. (and it is clearly not Jacobs Field). A quick google search turned up the original photo in article in the Boston Globe. I can’t help but wonder why this photo was used – did they assume that there aren’t too many nerds that are sports fans (and even more specifically, Tribe fans), and no one would notice? Did they have to get permission to use the photo? I’m very amused and curious about this!” … Blake Swihart’s sergeant tattoo, in honor of his brother who is disabled after serving overseas in the Army (from Funhouse). … Ray Hund sent a second batch of cool stuff: 1. Youth’s Companion April, 1929; 2. “Cubs” won the pennant in ’29; 3. Waner brothers (Lloyd & Paul) merch; and, 4. 1940s Hal Newhouser. … Yoenis Cespedes is now using a C-Flap on his batting helmet (from Wes).

NFL News: WHOA. Check out this Davenport Athletic Club football sweater from 1914. – at Putnam Museum. Here’s a bit of a writeup (from Nick Souza). … The Cowboys have released wide receiver Dez Bryant, weeks after signing wide receiver Allen Hurns. Hurns wore No. 88 in Jacksonville, the number Bryant wore in Dallas. But he won’t take 88 with the ‘boys, and thinks they should retire it for Dez (thanks, Brinke). … Check out this neat vintage NY Giants bag found by Jimmer Vilk in a “Thrift store right off the Tallmadge Circle, just over the Akron border.” … “Then I went to Goodwill and got a blazer and a ball-in-glove shirt,” he added, later.

College/High School Football News: Check out this Letterman jacket (from Josh Claywell). This is Lynch HS in Kentucky, a school that closed in 1981 and won the first official Kentucky High School AA state football title in 1959. … Yesterday, Temple football were wearing Twitter handle nameplates for their Cherry and White spring game (from bombo). … New FSU (and former Oregon) Coach Willie Taggert is already making full use of all the uniforms at his disposal. Look for mono-black, red hats, and red pants to make appearances this coming season (from Ovaltine Jenkins). … According to Oklahoma Crimson, these are new helmet logos for the Sooners. … Here’s another look at the differences in the Sooner hats (from DoakBoyFresh).

Hockey News: “Quite surprisingly, the Tri-City Americans went 8-0 in the first two rounds of the WHL playoffs,” says Wade Heidt. “They have swept the two best-of-sevens to advance to the Western Conference Championship. During this playoff run, their alternate red uniform has become their regular road uniform. We have not seen the usual navy road uniform and likely will not.” … “The post is a little old, but I figured you might be interested in the work comic book artist Jason Fabok did a year ago,” says Brian Daugherty. “He designed kits for the NHL teams in Metropolis and Gotham and he put a lot of work into it to make the kits look realistic.” … For their playoff game last night, the Nashville Predators created a checkerboard effect with the seats (from Alex Hider). … CROSSOVER ALERT (also posted in NBA): Drake was spotted at a Raptors game yesterday wearing a Humboldt Broncos sweater (from Mike Chamernik).

NBA News: From the “FFS Files, Volume 732”: This fan got a Franklin, the Sixer’s mascot as a tattoo. However, he included the StubHub Patch. FFS (from Blake Fox). … CROSSOVER ALERT (also posted in Hockey): Drake was spotted at a Raptors game yesterday wearing a Humboldt Broncos sweater (from Mike Chamernik).

Soccer News: Chapecoense Real have revealed their new away kit, which incorporates the Colombian flag (from Josh Hartle). … In Belgrade Derby yesterday, FC Crvena zvezda was going with Cyrillic-alphabet NOBs while FK Partizan used Latin-alphabet NOBs (from Ed Żelaski). … Nagoya Grampus goalkeeper Seigo Nagasaki’s 42nd birthday with pictures of him in his keeper kit every year in the JLeague (from Jeremy Brahm).

Grab Bag: The Vancouver Stealth wore this year’s BC jersey Friday night at home against Saskatchewan, notes Wade Heidt. The jersey is meant to emulate the British Columbia provincial flag. … Navy Lacrosse had some new helmet decals for their 99th meeting vs. rival Army (fromLaxSportsNet). … Masters Champion Patrick Reed received a personalized No. 18 Astros jersey yesterday (from Ignacio Salazar).

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Comments (49)

    Griffey first wore 42 on April 14, 1997. That’s where that picture is from.

    To be honest, and maybe my opinion isn’t popular, but I don’t like everyone wearing 42 with a no NOB. It takes away the uniqueness of the day and the man they are honoring. It’s turned gimmicky in a way, especially in years when the team have the day off or get rain out and wear the 42s the next day.

    I’d much rather see one player per team go this route. Have them be nominated by their teammates, coaches, and the community for having exemplified the character that Jackie was. Have a short write up, feature them pre game, let them be the one with the 42, and put up a plaque or display at the stadium as to why on that day, during that year, so that future fans can see why.

    Just a thought.

    So for all you guys who *hate* everybody wearing 42 for one day a year (and I think it should ONLY be worn on April 15th — if a team doesn’t have a game scheduled or the regularly scheduled game gets rained out, too bad), you need to get over it. Today is a day to remember arguably the most important and influential person in the game of modern baseball, and also in American history. You can feel free to argue, but you’d be wrong.

    I’m sorry, but this is another MLB gimmick that cheapens the accomplishment. No. 42 is already retired throughout baseball. A lot of teams have that No. 42 prominently displayed next to their other retired numbers. I have no qualms with that, and I think it’s a great thing to point out to kids when see that number and ask. I also agree Robinson is the most important person in baseball history. But there’s no need for everyone to wear No. 42. Wear your regular uniforms. Every day. I go to the park, I want to see teams in regular colors and I want to be able to identify the players when they are on defense. Even if I buy a scorecard or program on April 15, I can’t properly identify them because everyone is No. 42. It’s a gimmick.

    Furthermore, I don’t need to “get over” my opinion any more than you do. You’re entitled to your opinion. I’m entitled to mine. Mine is no more “wrong” than yours. As someone who reads this site on an everyday basis, I don’t appreciate your arrogance and sense of entitlement just because he’s your favorite player. You can express your opinion without being a jerk about it.

    And, Wayne, I’m sorry, I did not mean to reply to your comment. I was replying to Phil’s comments in the post. My apologies.

    Nbd. I think you’re a little bit more passionate about than I, but I think we share the same feeling about it needing to be a different kind of respect and eliminate the gimmick side of it. I’m genuinely surprise MLB didn’t make a whole weekend out of it and have all players wear 42 for the whole weekend.

    Well said Rich. Phil, not only is your position arrogant it’s childish. It’s like you are going to put your hands over your ears, hold your breath and kick your feet if the well read and educated readers of this site dare disagree with you. If you think this little of your readers then I don’t see any reason why I should continue to frequent the site. Congrats Phil-I’m sure Jackie Robinson would want you to use his memory to show how infallible you are.

    Selig was awful but don’t forget to blame the owners who didn’t want to be told how to run their business anymore for hiring him. They chose a fellow lunatic to run the asylum. Remember Milwaukee was a National League city when it was home to the Braves.

    H Hat,
    Leaving the site over Phil’s supposedly arrogant and childish position is not the answer. Counter his argument and may the best case win. Uni Watch is pretty much an opinion site. The writers and readers disagree every day and the site is better for it. Don’t leave, your opinion is valued, at least by me.

    Even funnier he writes 100 paragraphs on how much he loved Jackie Robinson and how he has always wanted to go to a Jackie Robinson Day at Shea again and then he says he isn’t going because it is a bit cold.

    Jackie would play today.

    “The caption says Forbes Field but it looks like someone’s backyard”

    The ivy-covered wall in back would be Forbes Field’s outfield wall. The photo would be from the early ’50s, when the bullpens were in Greenberg Gardens, which were front of the left field wall. After Ralph Kiner was traded in 1953, the Gardens were removed.

    “For their playoff game last night, the Nashville Predators created a checkerboard effect with the seats”

    Most likely with giveaway T-shirts.

    It’s interesting that the Pirates moved the bullpens to Greenberg Gardens/ Kiner’s Korner and then eventually put them back to foul territory. Today it seems most teams don’t want the bullpens in foul territory.

    Bullpens in foul territory increase the risk of injury. If there is room to have the bullpens behind a fence it is a better option.

    why is “baseball” split into 2 words on this header?

    Old Time Base Ball Photos


    I figured it was intentional and not a typo but never knew that


    Anyone else notice every home team wore white in NBA yesterday? If Nike is scripting, they must like the classic feel that brings to the playoffs. I thought it was interesting since we barely saw traditional matchups all season, and now they are scrapping the whole “No home or away jerseys” montra. It was either a big coincidence, or I think we may be seeing traditional uni matchups throughout postseason, (or at least hoping each team is choosing their uniforms).

    Why did you object to the Brewers moving to the NL? Just the fact that the leagues became less distinct?

    Because it was totally unnecessary. They are an AL team!

    Plus it led to further stupidity moving the Astros to the AL. They are an NL team.

    Exactly! Aside from the official story that Selig always considered Milwaukee an NL town because of the Braves (despite the Brewers playing in the AL for 3times longer than the Braves played there in the NL) the speculation was that it was about money, and the need to pay an expensive DH in the AL. This is also one of the reasons (aside from the main one that they had been an NL team for over 50 years) that the Astros did not want to move to the AL. They both should have just stayed where they were. Plus, if this was such an important issue for Selig, he should have found a way to move Washington to the AL.

    It’s ironic that Milwaukee-Houston was cited as one of the unnatural matchups that would occur with interleague play when it was introduced. Then both teams wound up in the NL for several years; indeed, the same division. Now both teams are in separate leagues again; was that a fix?

    “Today is a day to remember arguably the most important and influential person in the game of modern baseball, and also in American history. You can feel free to argue, but you’d be wrong.”

    I’d agree that he’s the most important and influential person in modern baseball, in all of baseball, and probably all of American sports. And he’s certainly one of the most influential in the civil rights movement. But to claim he’s the most important figure in ALL of American history is probably a stretch. Founding Fathers? Abe Lincoln? FDR? MLK Jr? etc.

    I agree completely. He was a baseball player who happened to be the first negro to play in MLB. If he hadn’t done it we dont think the next 50 could have done the same thing? He was PAID to PLAY a GAME.

    get over it already

    He was paid to play a game but was also paid to take a lot of shit no man should have to take. Robinson’s temperament was as important as his athletic ability. There was a reason beyond athletics why Robinson and Doby were chosen to be pioneers. There is no doubt integration was inevitable but to say any of 50 players could have been the first AND successful is wrong.

    Why is there never any mention of or credit given to Branch Rickey for going against the status quo by putting a black player on his team. He realized there were good black players and wanted to field the best team possible. With respect to JR for accepting the chance, knowing that there would be significant resistance and outright hatred, he just happened to be the player chosen by BR.

    I think you are misreading and mischaracterizing history. Quite a bit of mention and credit have been given to Branch Rickey over the years.

    My boss has 4 Dodgers season tickets in what, as far as I can tell from looking at Dodger Stadium seating charts, is a prime location right behind home plate. For whatever reason, she was unable to go to the game today, so I was the lucky recipient of a pair of tickets. The weather today is supposed to be in the mid 70s and I believe Clayton Kershaw will be on the mound. I’m not really a Dodgers fan (Go Nats!) so the only Dodger attire I have is an old cap. But I woke up this morning and realized that today was Jackie Robinson Day, and now I’m super excited to wear my Jackie Robinson Day t-shirt from the UW T-shirt Club. So gimmick or no gimmick, I’ll be wearing # 42 today also.

    i hope this is televised and some uniwatcher snags of pic of you in the UNIWATCH gear.


    Unfortunately because of the dugout club section I was a little further back than I thought, so I wouldn’t have been spotted on TV, but I was still really happy to get to wear that shirt on the appropriate day at the appropriate place.

    Excellent job, Phil! And I love that you included Larry Doby and the other players who were among the first to break the barrier.

    I like that all the players wear No. 42 today. A great tradition that should be reserved for Jackie.

    I like the Citi Field rotunda, too.

    “I cannot stand and sing the anthem. I cannot salute the flag; I know that I am a black man in a white world. In 1972, in 1947, at my birth in 1919, I know that I never had it made.” – Jackie Robinson

    Nice post today Phil! I learned a few things that I didn’t know or perhaps had just forgotten, especially that the inaugural celebration was at Shea and not Dodger Stadium. I also loved the photos of the other great black players to follow in Jackie’s footsteps. Nice touch. Jackie Robinson is a household name and yet only real baseball fans know Larry Doby.

    I wish that only one player could wear 42 today, and then it would be a unique tribute personalized to the player, but having everyone wear it is fine too. It’s fun looking back on my scorebook to see 42s up and down the lineup.

    I think that having everyone wear 42 kind of has an “I’m Spartacus!” effect. The players are all expressing solidarity in supporting Jackie Robinson. Some people are suggesting that one person on each team should be chosen for the honor of wearing 42, but then that player would be getting some of the attention. As it is now, all the players become anonymous and the focus is all just on Jackie Robinson, and that seems appropriate to me.

    On the other hand, it also comes across as “virtue signalling”…I mean, there is literally nobody in America who thinks that baseball should be for whites only. Baseball is making a big deal about taking a safe stand.

    When MLB comes speaks out about police brutality, mass incarceration, and other, less politically correct issues that affect black Americans disproportionately, then I’ll be impressed.

    Allen Hurns says 88 should be retired for Dez? While I agree it should be retired,it will be for Drew Pearson and Michael Irvin.

    Watching the Penguins at the Flyers on the tube right now. Starting thinking that aesthetically, Pittsburgh at Philadelphia looks a lot better now than it did 10 years ago:


    Agreed. Both Pittsburgh and Philadelphia had the good sense to go back to their fantastic throwbacks full time. The only thing that annoys me about the Flyers away uniforms it that the black half-collar disrupt the shoulder yoke.

    Excellent post today, Phil. Appreciate your passion for this topic, your obvious love of the game, and your ability to weave personal reminiscences with the history behind the event. Another stellar entry on a site that is filled with them. Thanks so much for what you to & how you do it.

    I gotta admit I have mixed feelings on all the Jackie Robinson worship…

    On one hand, it’s impossible not to respect the man, his accomplishments, and the road he paved for others.

    On the other hand, at some point MLB starts to look like it’s trying too hard, possibly attempting to make us forget that the number of black major league players has dwindled in recent years and the sport is still seen as “the white man’s game”…

    One more thought: if a baseball game can be played with all players wearing the same number, doesn’t that mean that numbers on baseball uniforms are not needed at all?

    One also wonders if a devious manager could pull a fast one with all players wearing #42 and send guys up to bat in the wrong order…

    One thing should be remembered from that game is that it was a rare appearance of the Mets ice cream man white hats that they wore in 97.

    “Today is a day to remember arguably the most important and influential person in the game of modern baseball, and also in American history. You can feel free to argue, but you’d be wrong.”

    I’ve seen white guilt before, but this takes the cake.

    Does anyone know why Jackie Robinson was assigned number 42? He didn’t wear it at UCLA, for the KC Monarchs, or for Montreal. Most of the other position players had single digit numbers or in the teens and twenties. It almost seems like the 1945 equivalent of today’s rookies having numbers in the 80’s and 90’s during spring training.

    I’ve never heard any reason for him wearing 42.

    There should be 42 comments, so I’ll add this one, though any more will go over 42. The Dodgers have to thicken their number font…it looks so bad. Jackie’s uniform had it right.


    In the Tri-City Americans image, some of the jerseys are CCM-manufactured, and the others appear to be old Reebok stock. It’s surprising that they’re using old stock for the playoffs (if that is a playoff image).

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