CINCINNATI -- In normal times, and during a 162-game regular season, Major League Baseball would observe Jackie Robinson Day on April 15 to mark the anniversary of when he broke the color barrier in 1947. Alas, little is normal in 2020.
MLB chose to celebrate Jackie Robinson Day on Aug. 28 for two reasons. It’s the anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963, which the Robinson family attended, and it's also the date in '45 when Robinson and Branch Rickey met to discuss his future as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers.
In conjunction with the celebration, MLB announced a partnership extension with the JRF Scholarship Program, the Jackie Robinson Museum and the annual JRF ROBIE Awards. The extension is through 2023, and it includes a $3.5 million commitment on behalf of MLB.
“Jackie Robinson is a huge figure in not only baseball but in sports and in life in general,” Reds second baseman Mike Moustakas said. “It means a lot to me and a lot of other people. For me, it’s a special day, because I get to honor a great man, a hero, and I get to wear his number proudly today. It’s something pretty, pretty cool for all of us to be able to do.”
At Great American Ball Park on Friday ahead of the Reds' 6-5 series-opening win over the Cubs, Cincinnati honored Robinson's legacy in multiple ways:
• A cutout with Robinson’s picture was featured prominently behind home plate.
• Pregame ceremonies featured videos saluting Robinson and his impact, including one with players on the Cincinnati RBI teams, one with pitcher Amir Garrett and MLB’s “4 Us 2 Remember” piece celebrating Robinson's life and legacy away from the diamond.
• The Reds recognized Jersie Thomas, the club winner of the 2020 Jackie Robinson Foundation scholarship. Thomas is a '20 graduate of Warren High School and a freshman at Miami University majoring in business/cyber security.
• In keeping with the April 15 tradition, all players and on-field staff from both the Reds and Cubs wore Robinson’s No. 42.
Moustakas was one of the Reds players who met on the field Wednesday with Brewers players Christian Yelich and Ryan Braun to discuss postponing their game in Milwaukee in response to Sunday's police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis.
“I said, 'Whatever your decision is, whatever you guys choose to do, we support you,'” Moustakas said. “At the end of the day, they chose not to play, and we supported them. But It was not our choice to make as the Cincinnati Reds organization.
“No matter what sport it is -- whether it be baseball, basketball, soccer, whatever it is -- athletes are coming together for a cause. … To be a part of that and to see that happening it makes me proud. It makes me hopeful for future generations. I have children. A lot of people have children. I’m hopeful that things can continue. Light can be shed on things.”