Phillies

McCutchen discusses the 'full circle' feel of Jackie Robinson Day in 2020

Phillies

In a perfect world, Andrew McCutchen said Friday afternoon, MLB would have taken the decision out of the players' hands Thursday and postponed all games. 

Anyone who exists in 2020 knows this is not a perfect world. It's been closer to a dystopia.

Seven games across MLB were postponed Thursday as teams made the choice to sit out in protest of racial injustice and police brutality. The movement was in response to the police shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin Sunday of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man. 

Eight teams played on Thursday. There were doubleheaders between the Dodgers and Giants, Pirates and Cardinals, Mariners and Padres and Reds and Brewers.

McCutchen was not upset by MLB's non-decision, he just acknowledged the reality of it and answered the question honestly.

"In a perfect world, you would've wanted it to be taken out of the players' hands and realizing that we felt that there were some things that were more important than playing the game of baseball," he said before Friday's game. 

"You would like it to be taken out of the players' hands but the world isn't perfect. Sometimes it doesn't always matter that everyone's on the same page. If you're having a conversation with one person that changes the outlook or perspective on that person, that's what matters. We can't satisfy the world and I'm not here personally to satisfy the world, I'm just trying to do what's right. It's not about being right, it's about doing what's right."

 

The Phillies returned to play Friday at home on Jackie Robinson Day with all players wearing No. 42. Ordinarily, Jackie Robinson Day is April 15, the date in 1947 that he broke baseball's color barrier. With no regular-season games until July this year because of the pandemic, celebrations were moved to August 28, the 57th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.

"We're not only celebrating Jackie Robinson Day as the person he was, breaking the color barrier, really being the start of the whole civil rights movement," McCutchen said. "He always stood for what he believed in. It's come full circle. Ultimately, I feel like that's what we're doing right now." 

MLB on Thursday announced an extension through 2023 with the Jackie Robinson Foundation which includes $3.5 million to support JRF’s Scholarship Program, the Jackie Robinson Museum and the annual JRF ROBIE Awards.

The majority of funding will benefit the Jackie Robinson Foundation’s Scholarship Program, which provides four-year college scholarships to minority students selected from across the country each year based on academic achievement, leadership capacity and financial need. It will also go toward comprehensive support services, including career guidance, practical life skills training and job placement for JRF Scholars.

McCutchen said in July that this is all bigger to him than a symbolic gesture, and he recognizes that he doesn't have all the answers.

"I'm not just about talking about the problems that exist or talking about things that have happened," he said six weeks ago. "We have a lot of people that do that in this world, and a lot of people who are really good at it. I'm not going to sit here and say I'm an activist now or I'm a scholar in this way."

Many asked on Thursday what the next step would be in continuing this fight.

"It's OK to not always have the answers," McCutchen said. "People want to know what's next. It's OK to not have the answers, it's OK to not know what's next. What's not OK is not caring what's next."