Jackie Robinson Honored at All-Star MLB Game

The actor paid tribute to the first African American to play in Major League Baseball

Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play in Major League Baseball, swinging a bat while he wears a Brooklyn Dodgers uniform in 1954. Photo courtesy of Bob Sandberg.

Amid a fully packed Los Angeles stadium, the recent Medal of Freedom honoree, Denzel Washington, waved to the crowd as he approached the open field and paid tribute to Jackie Robinson, the first African American to ever play in Major League Baseball

Jackie Robinson in his Dodger uniform circa 1950. Photo courtesy of United States Information Agency.

“Ebbets Field, Brooklyn. 1947. When Jackie Robinson stepped on to a Major League Baseball field for the first time, armed with supreme talent and unshakeable character, and wearing a dodgers uniform — he changed the game of baseball and so much more,” Denzel said. “What he carried with him, what he represented was towering on the field.” The actor was alluding to Robinson breaking the almost 60 years of racial segregation in baseball that had prematurely ended the career of many Black athletes. Denzel then proceeded to list some of the Robinsons many decorations. “He was the Rookie of the Year, a most valuable player, a world series champion, and a 7-time All-Star,” the actor added. “Business leader, family man, activist, hall of famer.”

Referencing the MLB’s move to retire the uniform number 42 across all major league teams — making the number forever associated with the Robinson — Denzel continued his homage. “Beyond the field, Jackie Robinson challenged us to become better versions of ourselves,” Denzel said. “He said that life is not a spectator sport. And he lived that motto to the fullest. Whether it was charging down the baselines, or standing tall for opportunity and justice, number 42 blazed the trail that would light the way for people of every walk of life and every color.” The actor concluded his tribute by saying that Robinson’s impact in baseball and in America “looms just as large” today, 75 years since the athlete debutted in the MLB in 1947.

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