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Baker, Reds appreciate Jackie every day

CINCINNATI -- As part of Major League Baseball's celebrations at ballparks nationwide, the Reds and Phillies marked Jackie Robinson Day on Monday, the 66th anniversary of the day the Brooklyn Dodger great broke the color barrier.

Continuing a tradition started by former Reds star Ken Griffey Jr. in 2007, every player on the field wore Robinson's No. 42 on Monday. In 1997, under the direction of Commissioner Bud Selig, Robinson's No. 42 was retired across all of Major League Baseball in an unprecedented tribute.

"It's pretty cool. It's my first time," Reds third baseman Todd Frazier said. "You feel like you're with him a little bit wearing it. I'm glad for what he did. It took a strong man to do it."

Reds manager Dusty Baker always considers the day special. Baker never met Robinson, who died in 1972, but has spent time with his family.

"I met his wife and kids and brother Max," Baker said. "I was invited to the field dedication at UCLA. We played an exhibition game out there -- the Dodgers against UCLA.

"My dad used to talk about Jackie all the time. We watched all of the movies. My Mom made me do book reports and stuff. My Dad used to remind me, 'You know what year you were born?' It was the year that Jackie Robinson was MVP (1949). I have a Jackie Robinson wall in my house -- my weight room. My son says he wants to go to UCLA and play second base. That's pretty cool."

Included during pregame festivities at Great American Ball Park, University of Cincinnati student and Jackie Robinson Foundation scholar Brittany Jones threw out a ceremonial first pitch. "Slick" Willie Shaw of the Harlem Globetrotters served as the honorary captain. SBM Management Services was awarded the 2013 Most Valuable Diverse Business Partner Award by Reds COO Phil Castellini and Sean Rugless, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky African American Chamber of Commerce. The Black Lawyers Association of Cincinnati honored Hamilton County Municipal Court Judge Cheryl Grant and three scholarship recipients.

The movie trailer to "42: The Jackie Robinson Story," was also shown to fans on the video board.

Frazier, along with second baseman Brandon Phillips, saw an advanced screening of "42" last month during Spring Training in Arizona.

"It put some perspective on what he really went through -- all the hatred towards him when he was playing," Frazier said. "People nowadays get upset when fans call you a bum. He changed the game. He had a lot of hardship, but it did not seem to deter him at all. That's what I respect about him the most."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon
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