by Skylar Grey ’23
Published May 3rd, 2021
Turn on a game of baseball on April 15th, and you will be greeted with an overwhelming sight of unity. Players from every position on every team, with every background and age, will all have ditched their traditional jersey number for one far more powerful: forty-two. Even coaches, managers, and legions of fans will have donned 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson, one of baseball’s all-time greats and a modern icon.
For years, Jackie Robinson Day has been a way of honoring one of pro-sports’ most influential racial pioneers, giving Robinson the respect he was never offered in his own era.
Robinson was an outstanding multi-sport athlete, yet the struggles he faced with integration and acceptance in one of the most divisive periods of society are what truly drive April 15th, celebrating Robinson’s fight for equality and recognition for black athletes in a divided era.
In 2021, MLB teams have done far more than the traditional jersey swap to honor Robinson’s legacy. The Los Angeles Dodgers, located in a hotbed of youth sports, have used the day to allocate more team funding towards the Dodgers Dreamfield, a breathtaking stadium endeavor dedicated to providing youth softball and baseball teams a place to compete.
Seeing Robinson’s name placed on such inclusive movements is indicative of the progress the sports world has made, offering opportunity in the name of a man who was afforded so little.
Miami’s Marlins franchise was yet another team to carry Robinson’s values into future generations, raising money towards the Jackie Robinson Foundation scholarship fund, cash dedicated to providing financial aid to disadvantaged youth who uphold Robinson’s nine values.
In an interview with the 2023 college graduation class’ scholarship recipient Alexis Marshall, the standout student illustrated how Robinson’s fund will help her attend Columbia University, where she plans on studying neuroscience. The support of baseball teams, known as some of America’s favorite institutions will undoubtedly continue to create balance and opportunity for aspiring young individuals.
The Phillies took Jackie Robinson day as a chance to honor not only Robinson, but other Negro Leauge players of the era, men who were never offered a chance to show their talent at the highest level.
The Phildephia Stars, a Negro League team in Robinson’s era was honored through shirts gifted to every single fan, along with artwork placed around the stadium honoring the baseball legacy of Philly, placing former Stars players alongside the current franchise.
Ultimately, the annual tradition of Jackie Robinson day has become one of the most impactful celebrations in sports, a perpetual reminder of the struggles endured to reach the current state of the world, and the strides that must be taken in order to ensure equal opportunity for not only athletes, but every single one of us.
By upholding Robinson’s values every day, opportunities will continue to arise for those with the same grit, bravery, and determination that took Robinson so far, and this year’s celebration proved to be one that shows a clear focus on the next generation of America.