During the last road trip the Arizona Diamondbacks visited the Los Angeles Dodgers for three games. The final game of that series fell on April 15 which has been designated as Jackie Robinson Day throughout Major League Baseball. While every team commemorates the day it is especially pertinent for the Dodgers.
Every player, coach and umpire wore uniform number 42 in tribute to the late Jackie Robinson. For the fans in attendance at that game it was a very special experience. For baseball fans in Arizona that tribute seemed very distant.
I applaud the accomplishments of Jackie Robinson as some of the greatest moments in baseball but with the Diamondbacks out of town it was hard to connect with the festivities. It was just not the same as being at the ballpark.
I was very excited to hear that the Diamondbacks had planned a Jackie Robinson tribute during this home stand against the Philadelphia. While the players did not wear number 42 as they did on April 15, there were several moments of tribute throughout this game.
Beginning with the pre-game festivities the focus all evening was on Jackie Robinson. The Diamondbacks recognized Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholar Andia Winslow for her efforts as well as several students from Genesis Academy for their work in the YMCA’s “Downtown Believes in You” program.
The national anthem was sung by Billie Harris, one of the pioneers in women’s fast-pitch softball. Ms. Harris was recently inducted into the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame for her playing career that spanned from 1948 to 1975. She struggled with the singing but her heart was in the right place and the fans cheered her on through the song.
The ceremonial first pitch was thrown by George Dean who was the Diamondbacks 2010 recipient of the Jackie Robinson Lifetime Achievement Award. His throw was met with thunderous applause not only for the accurate throw but also for all he has done for the Phoenix Urban League.
Since baseball unanimously retired Jackie Robinson’s uniform number, the Diamondbacks have had number 42 hanging above right center field on a baseball plaque. Today that was gone, replaced with a giant white with blue outline above the party suite in right field.
The display is much more prominent than the previous number showing everyone how important the Diamondbacks feel Jackie Robinson’s achievements are. It also sets the stadium up nicely for future number retirements such as number 51 and number 20.
Throughout the game the team recognized the accomplishments not only of Jackie Robinson the baseball player but more importantly his work after leaving baseball with the establishment of the Jackie Robinson Foundation.
This was a night to be grateful not only for being a Diamondbacks fan but for living in this country where one man can make a difference.