On Friday, the Marlins joined the rest of Major League Baseball in celebrating what we all know as Jackie Robinson Day. Every April 15, on the anniversary of Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier, it has become a tradition for MLB players to take the field in his iconic uniform No. 42 and reflect on his impact.
Jackie Robinson was born on January 31, 1919. He finally broke through to the majors with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 and did not disappoint. A 7x All-Star and 1955 World Series champ, Robinson won the MVP and Rookie of the Year awards and won the batting title. His 1949 stats were especially impressive: .342 BA, .432 OBP, .528 SLG, .960 OPS, 16 HR, and 203 H.
Robinson will be remembered for his contributions to the game, for being brave to step up and remain focused in the face of horrid comments from those who did not support his decision to play in a white man’s league. The individual success he had and the way he conducted himself moved the sport’s world forward.
I had the chance to talk to the Marlins and Phillies players prior to the game about what this day means to them and how they may celebrate it.
The first player we spoke to—I and Hector Rodriguez—was Miguel Rojas. The Marlins captain gave a long response about how Robinson’s impact went beyond Black baseball players and also opened doors for the latin players in the game like himself. Rojas played in the Dodgers organization from 2013-2014 before being traded to Miami.
“We just have to say thank you,” Rojas says.
We went around the clubhouse to Jesús Sánchez, Bryan De La Cruz, Joey Wendle, Jesús Luzardo, Jorge Soler, and Tanner Scott to get their perspectives about the significance of this day. They expressed their gratitude for Robinson.
One of the interesting answers came from De La Cruz. Even though he is Dominican and not African American, being “moreno” (Black man), he realizes that he would have been discriminated against if not for Robinson.
Joey Wendle immediately mentioned wearing 42 as an honor to him. Wendle also said Robinson made the game so much better in different ways.
These feelings toward Robinson are shared by people at all levels of the Marlins organization. On the 75th anniversary of his major league debut, they hosted various activities for the South Florida community—at LoanDepot Park and the surrounding neighborhoods—that spotlight Jackie’s legacy.
The Marlins hosted over 100 young female baseball players from USA baseball & MLB's Trailblazer Series to hear from Kim Ng!@KellySaco is joined by Veronica Alvarez to discuss the impact of today's event and Jackie Robinson's impact on women playing baseball!#MakeItMiami pic.twitter.com/tUZAxau4BY— Bally Sports Florida: Marlins (@BallyMarlins) April 16, 2022