WASHINGTON -- A chilly, rain-soaked morning in the nation's capital did not put a damper on the pregame festivities in honor of Jackie Robinson Day at Nationals Park.To celebrate, the Nationals played a tribute video to Robinson on the scoreboard before having U.S. Representative John Lewis, a Democrat from Georgia,
WASHINGTON -- A chilly, rain-soaked morning in the nation's capital did not put a damper on the pregame festivities in honor of Jackie Robinson Day at Nationals Park.
To celebrate, the Nationals played a tribute video to Robinson on the scoreboard before having U.S. Representative John Lewis, a Democrat from Georgia, throw out the first pitch. Lewis is widely regarded as a civil rights icon and received a Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Having served in Congress for more than 30 years, Lewis was also chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and was one of the "Big Six" leaders of groups who organized the 1963 March on Washington. Members from the Mamie Johnson Little League also participated in the pregame ceremony.
"John Lewis is John Lewis; the name speaks for itself," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. "I'm looking forward to having a conversation with him and shaking his hand. He's just one of those people that people respect and admire."
For young players like the Rockies' Trevor Story, the Jackie Robinson era happened well before they were even born.
Nonetheless, the Rockies shortstop appreciates what Robinson means for Major League Baseball and his place in history.
Prior to the series finale against the Nationals, Story proudly wore a practice jersey emblazoned with No. 42 across the front to celebrate Jackie Robinson Day. All of the players across MLB also donned No. 42 on their uniforms on Sunday to commemorate Robinson's impact on the game.
"It's a very special story," Story said. "He had some really tough times, that's for sure. He was really a pioneer for everyone in our game. Really, everybody. It's special to be able to play today and wear 42. I feel a lot of guys don't take that lightly. It's really special and an honor, really."
To further honor Robinson, the Rockies unveiled their 12th Annual "Rockies Honor Robinson" Youth Artistic Contest, in which 34 local schools and 4,328 students participated in creating artwork explaining what breaking barriers means to them. The goal of this annual recognition is to celebrate and bring more exposure to the life, values and accomplishments of Jackie Robinson and other African- American leaders who have inspired to many.
The club will recognize four winners of the art contest prior to the game on April 21.
Rockies manager Bud Black took some time to reflect on Robinson's legacy.
"I think it's great that Major League Baseball has a day for Jackie Robinson because he is so instrumental in his era, and moving forward, everything that has taken place since, not only in baseball, but in our society," Black said. "Part of me wished he could have been recognized sooner. He was a very proud man."
Added Martinez: "Not only did he change the game, but he changed how people viewed life. He's a legend and will always be remembered. That's why we have Jackie Robinson Day."
Major League Baseball will donate all proceeds from the sale of Jackie Robinson Day-related gear and merchandise to the Jackie Robinson Foundation, which has a scholarship program that provides four years of financial assistance and direct program services annually to 225 students attending 100 colleges and universities across the country. The foundation also has a mentoring curriculum to reach a broad range of college students beyond its core "JRF Scholars."
In addition, plans are underway for the Jackie Robinson Museum that will commemorate the life of Jackie Robinson as an athlete, activist and icon, illuminating his long-lasting impact across society through state-of-the-art exhibits, precious artifacts, film and other media. The National Jackie Robinson Museum Legacy Campaign has raised over $25 million and the museum is set to open in 2019.
Oliver Macklin is a reporter for MLB.com based in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter at @basebollie.
Todd Karpovich is a contributor to MLB.com based in Washington, D.C.