Cubs join Dodgers for ceremony at Jackie Robinson statue

April 16th, 2023

LOS ANGELES -- For the third consecutive year, most of the Dodgers team walked out to the Jackie Robinson statue in Centerfield Plaza at Dodger Stadium. It’s a tradition that has grown over the last few years, giving players and coaches a chance to honor the American hero. 

But for the first time, the Dodgers were joined by the opposing team. The Dodgers extended an invitation to the Cubs and manager David Ross, a former Dodgers player, quickly accepted the offer. Both teams stood by the statue and listened to speeches by Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, outfielder and Ross. 

“First off, to the Cubs, for you guys to come over here and take part in this, it’s special for all us. It really is,” Roberts said. “I was thinking about today, and you go back years, and it’s Jackie Robinson and Ernie Banks. These are two of the most storied franchises in all of sports and for us to be here on Jackie Robinson Day is special.”

The ceremony started with the CEO of the Dodgers Foundation, Nicole Whiteman, introducing a group of young Black Americans who were honored by the Jackie Robinson Foundation, which works in conjunction with the Dodgers.

Quick speeches from Ross and Roberts followed. The 15-minute visit to the statue ended with Heyward, who was with the Cubs prior to joining the Dodgers this offseason, delivering a powerful three-minute speech to his old and new teammates.

Heyward also stood on the mound before the game and addressed the Dodger Stadium crowd with another speech thanking Robinson for everything he did for society and for Heyward personally. The outfielder then caught the first pitch from Robinson’s granddaughter, Ayo.

“I just want to say much respect to everyone for being here,” Heyward said. “We all understand as players how hard this game is. It’s a grind. You give up a lot of things, time with family, time with friends and you feel like an outcast at times. But I could never stop imagining what Jackie had to go through on a daily basis when he continuously had it thrown in his face that he was different.”

For the Cubs, it was an opportunity to share the moment and help educate some of the younger players on the team about Robinson’s importance 76 years ago. Once Ross got the invite, the Cubs jumped on the opportunity. Former Dodgers outfielder was among the couple dozen people that showed up from the Chicago side. 

“It was really cool,” Ross said of the visit. “The guys out there in full uniform. Something special about everyone wearing No. 42 and being around that statue. … Coming together for that and being a part of this day here in L.A., it has something special about it. What better way than starting [Jackie Robinson Day] off around that statue and around those kids benefitting from those scholarships.” 

At the end of his pregame scrum, Roberts mentioned that, while pleased with the progress made, he knows the work surrounding equality is still not done. Constantly improving and making everyone feel welcomed was what Robinson always strived for. 

“We go through this grind of baseball and we have an opportunity to make the world better for everybody,” Roberts said. “There’s a No. 42 in every ballpark setup. When it gets tough, you’re grinding, all you have to do is look up at No. 42. I do it all the time when I’m feeling sorry for myself.”