MLB stars pay homage on Jackie Robinson Day

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Without any baseball games to celebrate the legacy of Jackie Robinson on the day named in his honor, baseball stars are celebrating the icon’s impact on social media through a variety of tributes.

Retired outfielder Curtis Granderson tied together the current pandemic and his desire to celebrate the legacy of Robinson by announcing that he would be donating 42,000 meals to the COVID-19 food bank partners in honor of Robinson’s No. 42, retired across the entire sport.

“Although baseball may be on pause, today is bigger than baseball,” Granderson wrote.

The three-time All-Star has been heavily involved in the coronavirus response through his Grand Kids Foundation, where he is accepting donations to help children and their families who need meals because of school closures. Granderson was given the Roberto Clemente Award in 2016 and was named Marvin Miller Man of the Year by the MLB Player’s Association of four separate occasions.

Stars from Robinson’s former team paid homage to the franchise icon. Both new Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts and reliever Kenley Jansen posted clips from Jordan Brand paying homage to Robinson on Twitter. Meanwhile, pitcher David Price expressed his excitement to put on the same uniform as one of his personal heroes.

“I have been looking forward to this day since being traded to LA,” Price wrote on Twitter. “Can’t wait to get back to doing what we love! In the meantime, let’s just stay home and stay safe.”

Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Chris Archer appeared on ESPN’s Outside the Lines to discuss the efforts of Major League Baseball to increase African American participation in the game and the cultural shift taking place in the sport.

“I think we are starting to see the game be a little bit more cool,” Archer said. “We have a lot more swag in the game and we have people expressing themselves a lot more and just being around the youth now, you can see it.

“A lot of people starting to get drafted … a lot of black Americans or African Americans, however you phrase it. A large part is due to Mookie Betts and myself and Marcus Stroman and Andrew McCutchen and David Price. The list goes on. There are a lot of great black American baseball players right now and I think, maybe in five or 10 years from now, where guys getting drafted now are gonna penetrate the big leagues.”

Archer later added on Twitter that he wants MLB to allow players to still wear 42 for one game should the league return from the pandemic in 2020.

Stroman, a pitcher for the New York Mets, shared his Robinson-inspired tattoo and shared his thoughts on the day.

“Beyond thankful and grateful for the legendary life of this man,” Stroman said on Twitter. “Your trailblazing efforts paved the way for African Americans to play the sport I love.”

Tim Anderson hopped on a Zoom call to speak with players for the White Sox Amateur City Elite program, which provides resources to 100 youth baseball players who would otherwise not be able to afford the costs of travel teams.

Anderson spoke at length, with several high school students watching, about the impact of Robinson’s legacy on today’s game.

“Just use it as motivation, all of the things that he went through,” Anderson said. “We all know the negative things that he went through. Just being thankful for the moment and him paving the way for us as well and continue to go out and have fun with us. There are not many black kids in our league, so who’s gonna motivate these kids and inspire them? That’s something I take pride in.”

Niko Goodrum of the Detroit Tigers shared a mural in his home of several icons, including Robinson.

“I am honored! I am indebted!” Goodrum wrote about Robinson on Twitter. “You made it possible for me to be able to live out my dreams! The events that you went through day in and day out just to play this game changed the WORLD! You are on my mural of change at my house.”

CC Sabathia shared a clip of Robinson stealing home on social media.

“His LEGACY is breaking the color barrier for every African American player to be in the big leagues, without him we wouldn’t be here!” Sabathia wrote. “Today, we celebrate an icon on and off the field.”

Baltimore Orioles outfielder Dwight Smith Jr. shared a highlight from last year’s Jackie Robinson Day.

“If it weren’t for him I wouldn’t get the opportunity to play the game I love,” Smith said. “Hitting a Home Run last year on your day was Special. Heroes get remembered but Legends never Die and Your Legacy will forever live on”

Thomas Tull, who produced the movie about Robinson’s life, is donating $4.2 million worth of personal protective equipment to hospitals that serve the African American community and others hardest hit by COVID-19.



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