Major League Baseball did a tremendous thing in 2004, something still unparalleled in professional sports, in establishing a day for Jackie Robinson, and retiring his jersey number across the league.
MLB and Clubs will commemorate Jackie Robinson Day at ballparks throughout the league today (April 15th) – the anniversary of Robinson’s historic MLB debut as he broke baseball’s color barrier.
Players will join in wearing the No. 42 on all uniforms throughout the league.
Almost two decades have passed since that first Jackie Robinson Day, with Mariano Rivera being the final player to wear the iconic number 42.
The parallels between Jackie Robinson Day and MLK Day are clear. In many ways, Robinson was King’s precursor in the modern civil rights movement.
In light of where we are as a nation, seemingly in the midst of another surge in our ongoing struggle with race, there is an important question to be asked.
Are we living up to Robinson’s legacy, or just remembering it?
Part of the reason that I was so excited to join the staff of this site is knowing the role that Blacks have played in building the game, and why it must be preserved, celebrated, and promoted.
When I think about writers like Sam Lacy, who championed and chronicled Robinson’s career, I remember how much power there is in the words we write.
Today, it’s important to stand alongside Byron Buxton as he plays amidst another tragedy in Minnesota.
It’s important to enjoy the rise of young stars like Akil Baddoo and Marcus Stroman, and continue to be wowed by Aaron Judge and Mookie Betts.
— MLBbro.com (@MLBbrodotcom) April 14, 2021
We should recognize that Major League Baseball has worked, through the RBI youth baseball program and the effort of a number of individual players, both past and present, to develop young talent.
Three of the top 15 prospects on MLB.com are Black Americans, with more in the pipeline each year.
Still, with all of the great things going on, there is work to be done.
Half of the teams in Major League Baseball have one or fewer Black players on their active rosters. We must also acknowledge baseball having exactly two more active Black managers than it did when Robinson died.
With LeBron James becoming a part-owner of the Boston Red Sox, there are now three Black men sitting in the owner’s boxes, yet there isn’t a single Black man or woman running a team’s operations.
That’s why organizations like The Players Alliance are so important.
It's up to US to continue his legacy #42 pic.twitter.com/i0ZejALukb
— ThePlayersAlliance (@Player_Alliance) April 14, 2021
While our nation as a whole attempts to reckon with the issue of diversity throughout society, they work within the structure of the game to continue to break the barrier that Jackie first fought through in 1947.
More than 150 members strong, the alliance maintains a number of programs that are focused on generating action as much as awareness.
And that’s the role I believe we want to play here at MLBBro.com. Generating action and awareness.
Like Jackie would.