Alex Kielar | April 15th, 2020
Despite no baseball being played, baseball celebrates the legacy and memories of the man who broke the color barrier today. On the 73rd anniversary of Jackie Robinson‘s Major League debut, MLB and all its players, fans, journalists, announcers, and others celebrate this special day online. Throughout the day, MLB’s social media pages and MLB Network will be streaming and televising games that occurred on this day and involving Robinson, finishing it off with a stream of the 1955 World Series Robinson and the Dodgers were in. That was when his famous steal of home occurred with Yogi Berra behind the plate (who until his last breath fully believed he tagged him out).
Fans can join in on the celebration on social media by sharing videos and pictures telling what Robinson means to them and using the hashtags #Jackie42, #JackieRobinsonDay, #JRDayAtHome, and #JRFoundation.
To help celebrate, let’s take a look back at the best moments and memories from this day.
1947 – Jackie Robinson Debuts
Of course, the moment where this whole celebration was started, Robinson debuted to break the color barrier. He started at first base for the Dodgers. Robinson went hitless in his debut, but of course, that was only the beginning of what would be a great career.
1997 – Number 42 Retired Throughout Baseball
In a ceremony at Shea Stadium with Robinson’s widow Rachel in attendance, commissioner Bud Selig announced that his number 42 would be retired throughout Major League Baseball. This was on the 50th anniversary of Robinson breaking the color barrier. At the time, there were still 13 active players wearing the number, including Mariano Rivera. Rivera was the last to don the number when he retired in 2013.
2004 – First Jackie Robinson Day Celebrated
Selig made the announcement that MLB established April 15 as “Jackie Robinson Day” throughout the league, along with Sharon Robinson, Jackie and Rachel Robinson’s daughter and Leonard C. Coleman, the Chairman of the Jackie Robinson Foundation. As part of the celebration on that day, every ballpark held a pregame ceremony, with a national ceremony at Shea Stadium.
2005 – April 15 Officially Declared Jackie Robinson Day
A year after the first Jackie Robinson Day was celebrated, Bud Selig officially declared that every year on April 15 would be Jackie Robinson Day. The Dodgers also wore their old road replica jerseys from 1947 to celebrate the 58th anniversary. Derek Lowe pitched a three-hit shutout in San Diego.
2007 – Hank Aaron and Frank Robinson throw out ceremonial first pitches at Dodger Stadium
Two of the greatest African-American players of all-time in Aaron and Robinson threw out the ceremonial first pitches on the 60th anniversary.
2008 – Ken Griffey Jr. hits a home run wearing 42
Ken Griffey Jr. requested to wear number 42 in 2007, as he asked Rachel Robinson for permission during that season. Selig embraced the request and encouraged other teams to have at least one player wear number 42 as well. A year later, every player, manager, and coach was wearing the number. That included the great Griffey Jr. of course, and he hit a home run for his 595th in his career.
2010 – Robinson Cano hits two homers, Rivera picks up save
It’s only right that the guy who was named after Robinson and wore number 24 in honor of him would hit two home runs on Jackie Robinson Day. Mariano Rivera, the last player wearing number 42 also picked up the save.
2012 – Dodgers turn triple play and Dee Gordon hits walk-off
The Dodgers turned a 2-5-6-3 triple play, pulling off the feat on Jackie Robinson Day, while Dee Gordon would deliver a walk-off single. Matt Kemp also blasted a home run and went 3-for-4.
2017 – Dodgers unveil Robinson statue
On the 70th anniversary of Robinson breaking the color barrier, the Dodgers unveiled a beautiful statue depicting him outside Dodger Stadium. The statue pictures Robinson sliding which is reminiscent of his famous steals of home plate, especially the one in the 1955 World Series.
2019 – Joc Pederson hits walk-off homer
The Dodgers are a fittingly 13-3 on Jackie Robinson Day, and their most recent and dramatic win was last year. They were trailing 3-2 going into the bottom of the ninth when Pederson hit the first walk-off homer of his career following a walk by David Freese.
As part of the celebration, I talked about the biggest moments from this day on my podcast, Too Much Pod Tar.
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