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From left, Chicago Cubs’ Lester Strode, Derrek Lee, Cliff Floyd, Cincinnati’s Ken Griffey Jr., and Cubs’ Jacque Jones all don No. 42 in honor of the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s Major League debut Sunday in Chicago.
AP photo by Nam Y. Huh
From left, Chicago Cubs’ Lester Strode, Derrek Lee, Cliff Floyd, Cincinnati’s Ken Griffey Jr., and Cubs’ Jacque Jones all don No. 42 in honor of the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s Major League debut Sunday in Chicago.

Debut still ‘incredible’
Baseball salutes Robinson’s first game in Major Leagues

By John Nadel
Associated Press Writer

LOS ANGELES — The Dodgers solemnly lined up along the third-base line, each and every one wearing No. 42.

Jackie Robinson broke major league baseball’s color barrier April 15, 1947, with the Brooklyn Dodgers, and the sport celebrated the 60th anniversary of his debut throughout the country Sunday, when more than 200 players, managers and coaches wore his number.

“I’ve often said that baseball’s most powerful moment in its really terrific history was Jackie Robinson’s coming into baseball,” commissioner Bud Selig said during an on-field ceremony before the Dodgers beat San Diego 9-3.

“It’s an incredible story — not just for baseball, but for society. Jackie was an American hero and the ultimate barrier-breaker. Threats to his life were commonplace. Yet Jackie took everything hate-mongers had to offer him. Not only is he a baseball Hall of Famer, he’s a Hall of Famer for all-time.”

Hank Aaron and Frank Robinson threw out ceremonial first pitches, and fellow Hall of Famers Joe Morgan and Dave Winfield were there, joined by actors Courtney B. Vance and Marlon Wayans. Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson sang “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Adding a personal touch were Robinson’s widow, Rachel, and two Dodgers who knew him. Broadcaster Vin Scully paid tribute to Rachel Robinson, and Don Newcombe, Robinson’s former teammate and a longtime Dodgers executive, looked on.

By winning, the Dodgers snapped Padres starter Chris Young’s streak of 25 consecutive road starts without a loss. Young was 9-0 with 16 no-decisions on the road dating to June 25, 2005, at Houston when he was pitching for Texas. Only one other pitcher in big league history had gone as many as 25 straight road starts without losing — Allie Reynolds had a 25-game streak in 1948-49.

This year’s national celebration was centered at Dodger Stadium, not far from where Robinson grew up in Pasadena. He would become the first athlete to earn letters in four sports at UCLA, and he served in the U.S. Army during World War II before making his debut with the Dodgers at 27.

The Brookinaires Gospel Choir from The First African Methodist Episcopal Church sang “Oh Happy Day,” a Robinson favorite. Twin logos acknowledging Robinson were painted on both sides of the plate with another behind second base, and “Jackie Robinson Day” was printed on the bases. There was a video tribute with Morgan and Aaron among those participating. And several current players expressed their thanks to Robinson.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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