Jackie Robinson tribute at Padres game tonight


City News Service

The San Diego Padres will pay tribute to Jackie Robinson’s legacy during a ceremony before tonight’s game at Petco Park against the Philadelphia Phillies featuring children from the Jackie Robinson Family YMCA of San Diego, along with representatives from its board of directors and a Jackie Robinson Scholar.

A video tribute to Robinson, produced by Major League Baseball, will be shown.

Jackie Robinson Day was celebrated throughout Major League Baseball on Sunday, the 65th anniversary of his breaking baseball’s color line. Teams that were on the road Sunday, like the Padres, hold their Jackie Robinson Day commemorations at their stadiums during another homestand this month.

Tonight will be the Padres’ first game at Petco Park since Sunday.

The Jackie Robinson Foundation provides four-year college scholarships, graduate school grants and extensive mentoring to a diverse group of academically distinguished students with leadership potential.

Robinson was “a man with character, charisma,” Padres second baseman Orlando Hudson told City News Service.

“To go through what he had to go through just to play baseball says a lot. You’re talking about a man who was spit on, (had to stay) in different hotels, (eat at) different restaurants.

“Some teammates didn’t want him. Mr. Branch Rickey (the Brooklyn Dodgers’ president) believed in him and then he went out (and became) a superstar.”

Robinson was Major League Baseball’s Rookie of the Year in 1947, the National League Most Valuable Player in 1949 and a six-time all-star as he helped lead the Dodgers to six National League championships during his 10 seasons with them, and, in 1955, their only World Series championship in Brooklyn.

Robinson was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962, his first year of eligibility.

Robinson’s integration into Major League Baseball is credited with helping change Americans’ attitudes toward blacks and being a catalyst toward later civil rights advances.

In 1971, the defunct Sport magazine named Robinson as the most significant athlete of the previous quarter-century in association with its 25th anniversary. In an interview with baseball historian Ted Patterson in connection with that honor, Robinson recalled a game in Boston in 1948.

“Some Boston players figured that Pee Wee Reese, a southerner, would react to their taunts about playing alongside of me on the Dodgers,” Robinson said. “Well, Reese did react. He left his shortstop position, came over to me at second base, placed his arms on my shoulder and said something.

“His actions had great meaning. The heckling stopped and the bench cleared in no time. Pee Wee Reese by his gesture said simply, ‘Yell and scream all you like. We’re a team. We came to play ball together.

“Because of attitudes like that, we were able to win six pennants in 10 years. And while we were able to conquer the Yankees only once in those six tries, I think we made our mark on them and on the game and on the nation.

“And I can’t help feeling if Americans today would take a page out of Pee Wee Reese’s book, if we could develop this kind of understanding in today’s troubled world, how much further along as a nation we would be.”