Dodgers, Nats unite to celebrate Jackie Robinson Day in LA

April 16th, 2024

LOS ANGELES -- Taking a trip to the statue in the center field plaza has become one of the most powerful traditions at Dodger Stadium on April 15, the day when all of Major League Baseball honors the life of the man who broke the color barrier in the Majors.

For the fourth consecutive year, the entire Dodgers team and staff members made the walk to the Robinson statue sporting their full uniform, which of course, includes all of them wearing the historic No. 42.

“All we talk about with the Dodgers and doing something that’s bigger than ourselves,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. "There’s no better person that exemplified that than Jackie Robinson. He had a big burden in his life to be a professional baseball player, taking on all the negativity and hate toward him, his wife, his kids and still persevere.”

When the Dodgers honored Robinson at his statue last year, they were joined by the entire Cubs roster. This year, the Nationals took full advantage of the opportunity, becoming the second opposing team to take part in the festivities before opening a three-game series against the Dodgers on Monday night.

“It’s special,” said Nationals pitcher, and former Dodger, . “With everything that they had with the ceremony earlier, seeing both teams unite and hearing some good words from a couple of different speaks, it was really cool to see that. I think it’s a really important day, and especially for us to be here in L.A. I think it means a lot for myself personally, and a lot of the guys in the clubhouse.”

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 Nationals manager Dave Martinez and Roberts followed. And in a wrinkle this year, the Dodgers brought in retired 17-year big leaguer Reggie Smith to address both teams. Dr. Harry Edwards, a sociologist and civil rights activist, also delivered a powerful speech to both teams.

“This is truly amazing,” Martinez said. “I can’t say enough about what Jackie Robinson has meant not only to the Black community, but the Hispanic community as well. He opened the door for many, many great players. He really did. He changed the lives of many, including myself. I don’t know if I would be here if it wasn’t for Jackie. My idol, Roberto Clemente, definitely have been here. He exemplifies what it means to have strength, courage and passion.”