LOS ANGELES -- There is no comparable to Jackie Robinson in Japan, but Kenta Maeda understands the magnitude of Jackie Robinson Day to baseball and America."In Japan they show the 42 event, it's actually big news in Japan that all Major League players wear 42," said Maeda. "I know a
LOS ANGELES -- There is no comparable to Jackie Robinson in Japan, but Kenta Maeda understands the magnitude of Jackie Robinson Day to baseball and America.
"In Japan they show the 42 event, it's actually big news in Japan that all Major League players wear 42," said Maeda. "I know a little bit about Jackie Robinson and am looking forward to the opportunity to wear No. 42."
Maeda will join the rest of baseball wearing the No. 42 jersey on Friday in celebration of the 69th anniversary of the Dodgers' Hall of Famer breaking baseball's color barrier. Major League Baseball has celebrated Robinson's legacy in an extensive and unified league-wide show of support through the years, including retiring his number throughout the Majors in 1997, dedicating April 15 as Jackie Robinson Day each year since 2004, and requesting that every player and all on-field personnel wear his No. 42 jersey during games scheduled on Jackie Robinson Day since 2009.
Rachel and Sharon Robinson, the wife and daughter of Jackie Robinson, will be the Dodgers' guests of honor in a tribute before the Dodgers and Giants renew their rivalry with another showdown between Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner.
Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, the first African-American manager in MLB, will join the Robinsons along with Dodgers owner Earvin "Magic" Johnson and Dodgers special advisor Don Newcombe, Robinson's Brooklyn Dodgers teammate.
Among those in uniform No. 42 will be Dave Roberts, the first minority manager in the history of Robinson's franchise.
"I think I'm going to make a conscious effort tomorrow to really understand and take in the scope and magnitude of tomorrow," said Roberts. "It's a big deal. Jackie's obviously impacted me and many others, so I want to take some extra time to reflect for sure."
Jackie Robinson Day jeweled bases and lineup cards will also be a part of the on-field commemoration. As presenting sponsor of the Jackie Robinson Day at Dodger Stadium, Bank of America will welcome civil rights icon, publisher and real estate entrepreneur Danny J. Bakewell Sr. to throw the ceremonial first pitch.
A special pregame ceremony will include Rachel and Sharon, 11 Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholars and Alumni and previous regional winners of the Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life essay contest, which is run by MLB, Scholastic and Sharon Robinson. The winners of the 2016 Breaking Barriers essay contest, which marks the program's 20th anniversary, will be announced Monday.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com.