Wednesday, April 15, 2009

MLB Celebrates Jackie Robinson Day

For the first time in Major League Baseball history, every player, coach and umpire wore number 42 today in tribute to Jackie Robinson. Every year on April 15th, MLB honors the contributions of Robinson, not only to the game of baseball but to all of American society.

The sight of every person in uniform wearing number 42 reminded Dodgers legendary broadcaster Vin Scully tonight of a story from when the Dodgers were playing a game at old Crosby Field in Cincinnati.

The team had gotten word before a game in 1947 that Robinson had received a death threat. As you would imagine, the threat was taken very seriously. Extra police were assigned to the game, including snipers on the roof of the stadium.

Before the game in the clubhouse, all the players and team personnel held a meeting to talk about the threat and how they would handle it. To say the sentiment was quite tense would be an understatement.

Scully said that during one especially quiet moment, Dodgers outfielder Gene Hermanski stood up and shouted, "I've got it. I've got it. I know what we can do."

Just as all eyes in the clubhouse turned towards Hermanski, he said, "We can all wear number 42 so they can't tell us apart!"

Everyone soon erupted in laughter for a much needed break in the tension.

Who could have imagined, at that moment, that 62 years later, there would be a game where every player in the league would wear number 42?

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