Twins, Red Sox honor Robinson's legacy
Clubs reflect on man who broke baseball's color barrier
MINNEAPOLIS -- As Denard Span stood in front of his locker inside the Twins' clubhouse on Thursday morning, a No. 42 jersey hung beside him.For Span, it was a symbolic reminder of how 63 years ago, the baseball world was forever changed for himself and other African-American players by Jackie Robinson. "We're here in this nice locker room, and it's easy to forget what he had to go through back when he was coming up," Span said. "The nine percent of African-Americans that are in the game now, we're lucky to be able to put this uniform on. I cherish it." On Thursday, Major League Baseball celebrated the 63rd anniversary of Robinson breaking the color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Throughout the league, all players donned the No. 42 on their jerseys in honor of Robinson, and home teams celebrated the legacy of a man who meant so much to the game. The Twins honored Robinson's legacy during a pregame ceremony in which they introduced three Jackie Robinson Scholarship recipients: Dena Baker, Andrea Glover and Lena Her Many Horses. A video about Robinson's career was played before Span caught the first pitch from Visions CEO Jon Otto, who was named the recipient of the fourth annual Jackie Robinson Award for the Most Valuable Diverse Business Partner. The Red Sox, who also wore No. 42 jerseys, will celebrate Jackie Robinson Day prior to Friday's game against the Rays. During a pregame ceremony, the club will show a Robinson video and will recognize four Jackie Robinson Scholarship recipients.
From 9-10 a.m. CT on Friday, the Twins will also celebrate Jackie Robinson Day and the "Sharing the Baseball Legacy" Negro Leagues exhibit at the Landmark Center.Robinson's legacy is remembered every day with his retired number inside every Major League ballpark. At Target Field, which opened this week, his number is emblazoned in blue on a white circle that hangs out in left field along with all the other Twins' retired numbers. This season, as part of Thursday's celebration, a single No. 42 jersey from each club will be signed and auctioned off on MLB.com. All proceeds will benefit the Jackie Robinson Foundation.
Two years ago, MLB made a $1.2 million commitment to the Robinson Foundation over a four-year period to fund scholarships in the name of each of the 30 clubs. Each year, $300,000 is invested, representing 30 $10,000 scholarships.
The Twins currently have three African-American players -- Span, Orlando Hudson and Delmon Young. And for all them, this day holds a special meaning.In addition to just wearing the No. 42 jersey, Hudson wore his socks high and donned special white cleats in honor of Robinson on Thursday. While this was a chance to outwardly recognize Robinson's impact on the game, Hudson said he never has forgotten what the legendary player did for himself and African-American players who have followed in Robinson's footsteps. "I think of Jackie every day," Hudson said. "It's not just today, because of Jackie Robinson Day. But I think of Mr. Robinson every day, because of what he did and his charisma. I don't see how he [did] it. To keep his mouth closed and played baseball in those days and to take the hassle that he did ... wow. I tell you, God appoints everybody for a different position. He knew Mr. Robinson could carry that load and put that barrier on his back and ride it and have us here for this great game. I thank him every day. He's a great blessing to all of us."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.