LOS ANGELES — David Price arrived at Longfellow Elementary School in Pasadena at approximately 8:50 a.m. ready to read “I Am Jackie Robinson” to about 500 kids. He was joined by former Dodgers players Edwin Jackson and Curtis Granderson, as well as David Robinson, the son of Jackie Robinson.
Just a couple miles down the road, Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts was also reflecting on Jackie Robinson’s legacy. Betts attended John Muir High School, the place that saw Robinson become a multi-sport star before enrolling at UCLA. Betts helped unveil a large mural in honor of Robinson’s life.
“I think for 75 years, he has just affected people’s lives,” Betts said. “This is his home and it’s fun to see bits and pieces of him all through L.A.”
Once Tony Gonsolin delivered a 92 mph fastball at 7:12 p.m. PT, the Dodgers’ entire focus was on trying to win a baseball game. That goal was accomplished with a 3-1 win over the Reds at Dodger Stadium, extending their winning streak to four games.
Gonsolin and Tyler Anderson delivered another strong outing on the mound, a positive sign moving forward for the Dodgers. Trea Turner extended his Major League-best hitting streak to 26 games with a smooth RBI triple in the third. Gavin Lux also continued his strong start, collecting two more hits.
Though it was a well-played game in all areas for the Dodgers, the real celebrations on Friday were centered around Robinson and his legacy. On Friday, every team in the Majors celebrated Jackie Robinson Day on the 75th anniversary of Robinson breaking the color barrier in the sport. Every player across the sport wore the No. 42 in Dodger blue.
But given that Robinson played for the Dodgers — albeit in Brooklyn — the festivities were much larger and thorough at Dodger Stadium.
Hours before the game, manager Dave Roberts, who wore customized cleats for the festivities and made a donation to the Players’ Alliance, took the entire team and staff to the Robinson statue out in the center-field plaza. He shared some quick words before handing the stage off to David Robinson, who shared some insight into his father’s constant battle for equality.
“To have David here today, know that there’s going to be 42 jerseys all over the ballpark and everyone in baseball is going to be wearing blue jerseys with the No. 42, it’s special,” Roberts said. “It was great having our players out there at the statue. It just speaks to our guys understanding that baseball, it’s bigger than us individually. We all have a platform, an opportunity, a responsibility — as David said today, which was great.”
Honoring Robinson’s legacy didn’t stop there, however. Price, along with plenty of other Major Leaguers around the league, donated his game check to the Players’ Alliance, an organization made up of former and current players designed to help the Black community get more involved in baseball.
Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, director Spike Lee and President Bill Clinton were among the many figures that shared a message of gratitude for Robinson. But just minutes before first pitch, Rachel Robinson, Jackie’s widow, was driven onto the field for pregame festivities. She will turn 100 on July 19. The Players’ Alliance presented her with a custom jacket with her husband’s image on it.
“Today was just a special, special day,” Roberts said. “To see the Players’ Alliance give her that jacket and spend some time with David, it was a really cool night.”
The Dodgers secured a win on the baseball field on Friday. It’s what Robinson, the athlete, did best. But before that was possible, the Dodgers — and everyone around baseball — made sure to remember the person, one of the most influential in American history.
“I’m always trying to think of a more in-depth or a better answer and I always come back to the same thing and it’s simply: Thank you,” Price said. “It comes from the bottom of my heart. For him to be able to go through everything that he did and to do it the way he did it with that dignity, that strength — it’s an inspiration and something that I feel I’m always indebted to.”