WASHINGTON — Since 2004, Major League Baseball has dedicated April 15 as a celebration of Jackie Robinson the baseball player, and person.
It is customary for players, managers and all on-field personnel to wear a jersey with the number 42, Robinson's number. On Tuesday night, the Nationals took part in the tradition by honoring Robinson along with their annual celebration of Black Heritage Day.
In 1947, Robinson broke the color barrier with his historic start with the Brooklyn Dodgers. He is remembered for being the first African- American to play in the major leagues.
Nationals manager Davey Martinez was sure to point out just how much respect he has for the way Robinson played baseball.
"What he did, and how he did it, it’s incredible," Martinez said. "Tells you what a strong man he was to endure some of the things he had to endure for this game. People need to realize, too, he was an unbelievable baseball player. People seem to forget that because of what he went through. But, he was one of the best players in baseball.”
His career as a baseball player earned him merits such as 1947 Major League Baseball Rookie of the Year (separate National and American League Rookie of the Year awards were not given until 1949), six All-Star Game appearences, and Hall of Fame induction in 1962. He became the first athlete across any pro sport to have his number retired across the league.
In addition to the jerseys and No. 42 patches, the Nationals wore matching shirts for batting practice with Robinson's name and the No. 100 to celebrate what would have been his 100th birthday this year.
Nationals star relief pitcher, Sean Doolittle, took to Twitter to pay his respects to the legendary player.
Today baseball celebrates the legacy of Jackie Robinson. He changed the game both on and off the field. By breaking baseball’s color barrier he became a hero and a pioneer. He went on to become a HOFer and a civil rights icon. It’s a privilege to wear 42 in his honor. pic.twitter.com/SjwJwpQwYh— Obi-Sean Kenobi Doolittle (@whatwouldDOOdo) April 15, 2019
Nationals Park showed tribute videos to African-American baseball greats, including late Orioles and Nationals manager, Frank Robinson. In addition, Jackie Robinson Foundation alumni and scholars participated in a pre-game ceremony. The ceremonial first pitch was thrown out by the president of Senators Satchel Page Little League and advocate for youth baseball in D.C., Andre “Smokey” Lee.
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