64 years ago today, Jackie Robinson played his first game with the Brooklyn Dodgers, effectively breaking the color barrier that had existed in baseball for some time. Now, one of the most revered men in all of sport will be celebrated once again for Major League Baseball's annual Jackie Robinson Day. All players, managers, and umpires will wear the number 42 in honor of Robinson, while all home teams (including the A's but not the Giants) will have a special pre-game ceremony in his honor, have special commemorative bases and lineup cards, and show a short video highlighting Jackie's career and his 9 values to live by. Road teams will do the same when they head back to their ballparks sometime this month.
Bud Selig had this to say about this historic day:
"Each year, Jackie Robinson Day is an occasion for us to pause and reflect on the game's proudest and most powerful moment...I am proud that the number 42, will again be worn in honor of our game's greatest pioneer."
If it wasn't for Mr. Robinson, players like Monte Irvin and Hank Thompson couldn't have played for the New York Giants in 1949 or Bob Trice for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1953; these men broke the color barrier for these teams, but never would have got the chance with out number 42. Some of the greatest players in the world have never been stars in MLB without him, and he made the world a better place by just being himself.
MLB will also be launching a new website, www.IAM42.com, created for fans to make a personal connections to Jackie Robinson through online video sharing and social networking via Twitter and Facebook. The site will feature personal videos from more than 60 current players and legends, honoring the 64th Anniversary of Jackie Robinson's historic moment, and will be updated throughout the year.
Remember to take some time and reflect on not just how much Jackie Robinson influenced baseball and sports in general, but also society at large and the cultures that it encompasses.