It was 66 years ago today that Jackie Robinson made his debut for the Brooklyn Dodgers, breaking Major League Baseball's long-standing color barrier. On Monday, every player from the 18 teams in action will wear the No. 42 in his honor.
Robinson wasn't just one of the most important players in baseball history; he was also one of the finest performers of his generation. Jackie had a .311 lifetime average, won the Rookie of the Year award in 1947, the National League MVP in 1949 and played in six All-Star Games.
ESPN2's Numbers Never Lie offers another impressive statistic:
Jackie Robinson had a WAR of 9.7 in 1951. Still the highest single-season WAR ever by a Dodgers position player #Jackie42— Numbers Never Lie (@ESPN_Numbers) April 15, 2013
Robinson was elected into the baseball's Hall of Fame in 1962. Just 10 years later, he would pass away at the age of 53.
Today, all of baseball, its fans and the writers that cover the game will be honoring Robinson. The L.A. Dodgers have a special ceremony planned, via CBS Los Angeles:
Jackie's widow, Rachel, his daughter Sharon and son David are scheduled to attend the game and pregame ceremony starting at 6:50 p.m. at Dodger Stadium.
During the ceremony, which will include a special tribute video, two of Robinson's teammates, 1956 National League MVP and Cy Young Award winner Don Newcombe, and the late Hall of Fame catcher Roy Campanella, will be honored by the Dodgers.
Aside from the Dodgers' tribute, I've collected a few of the tweets and videos commemorating the day. Before we begin, here's a classic Jackie Robinson tune for you to hum along to as you read. Enjoy:
Here's the man of the hour, folks (via CBS Sports):
66 years ago today, Jackie Robinson made his MLB debut. twitter.com/CBSSports/stat…— CBSSports.com (@CBSSports) April 15, 2013
We'll start with a few athletes and managers who have posted their feelings on Jackie Robinson Day. Shane Victorino posted this picture of the No. 42 Boston Red Sox jersey he'll be wearing today:
Today we are all honored to wear the number #42!! Thank you Jackie Robinson!! I want to pitch on this day at some point— David Price (@DAVIDprice14) April 15, 2013
I'm happy the recognition for Jackie is growing. Still don't think the courage of this man is fully understood. twitter.com/RaysJoeMaddon/…— Joe Maddon (@RaysJoeMaddon) April 15, 2013
Red Sox pitcher Ryan Dempster, slated to start tonight's game opposite the Rays, chimed in as well:
I'm honored to wear #42 today.Thank you, Jackie Robinson!#Jackie42— Dempster Foundation (@RyanDempsterFDN) April 15, 2013
Via ESPN's Baseball Tonight on Twitter, we get this picture of the tribute at Yankee Stadium:
Major League Baseball tweeted out this simple message with a nice collection of Robinson images:
On Sunday, UCLA honored Robinson with a mural. From Jack Wang of Inside UCLA:
On Sunday afternoon, one day before the 66th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's debut in major league baseball, UCLA unveiled a new mural of the former Bruin and Dodger legend.
Situated just a few feet away from a statue of man who broke baseball's color barrier, the new piece featured 25 colorful tiles depicting Robinson against a backdrop of eight circles. Each symbolized part of his story, from his number, 42, to team logos, to his Army past.
12 of the 30 teams won't be playing today. espn.go.com/mlb/schedule Seems like Jackie Robinson Day a good reason to have everyone in action.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) April 15, 2013
I couldn't agree with him more. The ultimate tribute would be every player in the league wearing No. 42 today, not just 18 teams.
Bleacher Report MLB Lead Writer Zachary D. Rymer shares this detailed article that traces black players' impact in the league, from Robinson to the present day.
ESPN's Howard Bryant wants us all to remember that for everything this day means today, Robinson wasn't honored properly when he was alive:
Let's not forget that the Jackie Robinson story ended happily for everyone - except Jackie. MLB had turned its back on him for 17 yrs...— Howard Bryant (@hbryant42) April 15, 2013
Jon Heyman of CBS sums up this day perfectly:
Happy Jackie Robinson Day! (66th anniversary of the most important date in baseball history)— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) April 15, 2013
I couldn't agree more. Thank you for your bravery, humility and your many sacrifices, No. 42. You are a true American treasure, and your memory will never be forgotten.
Happy Jackie Robinson Day, everyone.