04/16/08 12:44 AM EST
Cubs, Reds pay tribute to Robinson
Legend's No. 42 meaningful to many on the field as well as off
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
One will be auctioned to raise money for the Jackie Robinson Foundation. He's keeping the other one.
"I'll put it in the trophy case next to my throwback Jackie Robinson 42 jersey that they gave out a few years ago," Baker said Tuesday. "I got a Jackie Robinson wall in my house in my workout room. I have photos of Jackie and Pee Wee [Reese], and another great color photo of Jackie, Carl Furillo, [Don] Newcombe, [Roy] Campanella, Pee Wee, [Duke] Snider, the whole starting lineup. That was an awesome photo."
Baker, the Reds' Ken Griffey Jr., and the Cubs' Derrek Lee, Daryle Ward, hitting coach Gerald Perry and bullpen coach Lester Strode all wore No. 42 on Tuesday in tribute to Jackie Robinson.
"It's an honor," Lee said. "Anything you can do to bring awareness to what he did and pay your respects to what he did is definitely a good thing."
Introduced in 2004, Jackie Robinson Day was created to honor his enduring impact and his legacy as the first African-American player to break the color barrier in Major League Baseball. Robinson played his first Major League game at Ebbets Field on April 15, 1947, as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers.
In 1997, in honor of the 50th anniversary of Robinson breaking the Major League Baseball color barrier, his No. 42 was retired throughout the Major Leagues. The official retirement is lifted on Jackie Robinson Day to honor his ground-breaking achievement.
The Cubs paid tribute to Robinson's legacy by recognizing a current Jackie Robinson Foundation scholar and two foundation alumni in pregame ceremonies. The scholar was Ryan Dunigan, who is a senior at DePaul University matriculating on a combined J.D./Master's of Public Administration program at the University of Chicago.
Also honored were Doreen Hopkins, a 2001 graduate of DePaul University. She currently directs the McNairs Scholars program and is the vice president of the Jackie Robinson Foundation Alumni Association. Wanda Seyton, a graduate of Hyde Park Career Academy and Wesleyan University, also was honored. She mentors young minority students interested in careers in science and math.
Since 1973, the foundation has provided more than 1,200 four-year college scholarships and leadership development training to academically distinguished young men and women at 175 colleges and universities nationwide.
For Strode, Tuesday was a special day. He framed the No. 42 jersey he wore last year, and planned on keeping this year's jersey.
"It's an honor not only because [Robinson] was one of the first black players in the Major Leagues, but the historical part of it," Strode said. "It was an honor to be a part of that."
A little bit of Robinson trivia: He hit five home runs at Wrigley Field, his first coming off Monk Dubiel on July 28, 1949. Robinson also homered twice of Bob Rush (May 15, 1951, and July 10, 1952), and also off Dick Manville on July 12, 1952. Robinson's last homer at Wrigley was June 6, 1954, against Paul Minner.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.