Goodwin relishes honoring Jackie Robinson

April 15th, 2020

ANAHEIM -- Angels outfielder has always looked up to as one of his idols. Goodwin honored Robinson last year on Jackie Robinson Day by wearing custom-designed cleats and batting gloves on April 15 against the Rangers.

The cleats and batting gloves were UCLA blue and gold, representing where Robinson attended college before he broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier with the Dodgers in 1947. On every April 15 since 2009, Major League has Baseball celebrated Jackie Robinson Day with all players and on-field personnel wearing No. 42, while Robinson's No. 42 was retired across all of Major League Baseball in '97.

But Goodwin wanted to take it even further with his batting gloves and cleats and also had an impressive day at the plate, going 1-for-3 with a two-run homer, a sacrifice fly and hit by pitch in a 12-7 loss at Globe Life Park. It was part of a hot start to last season that helped Goodwin establish himself as an everyday player with the club.

Goodwin, who grew up in Rocky Mount, N.C., has studied Robinson’s history and what he had to go through as he became the first African-American player in the Majors. As one of four African-American players on the Angels -- along with Justin Upton, Michael Hermosillo and Keynan Middleton -- Goodwin is thankful that Robinson paved the way for others.

"I feel Jackie Robinson really hits home because of who he was and what he meant to the game," Goodwin told FOX Sports West. "The experiences he went through, fortunately, it took somebody a lot stronger than me to deal with. He was one of those people who was well-equipped to maneuver through it and come out on top."

Goodwin also excelled at football, basketball and soccer growing up, but he always gravitated to baseball. He was the Gatorade North Carolina Baseball Player of the Year as a high school senior and went on to play at the University of North Carolina and Miami-Dade College before he was selected by the Nationals in the first round of the 2011 Draft.

Goodwin remained with the Nationals from 2016-18 and had a stint with the Royals in ’18 before joining the Angels last year on the day before the start of the season after Upton suffered turf toe. Goodwin wasn't on the Major League roster on April 15 in 2016 or '17, and his first Jackie Robinson Day experience came with Washington as a pinch-hitter in '18 against the Rockies. So Goodwin made the most of his first time playing a full game on Jackie Robinson Day last year, clubbing one of his career-high 17 homers that day.

"I think the game celebrates him year in and year out for a reason,” Goodwin said. “He's somebody very special. It's something that doesn't go unnoticed. There are things you can take from him and apply to your own life. He's someone to look up to."