Semien on Jackie: 'We all want to play for him'

April 15th, 2020

rarely strays away from pregame routine, especially on the road. But last season before playing a midweek night game against the Royals during a playoff chase in late August, Semien made a rare exception for a special opportunity.

Semien dedicated a morning to visit the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum with his grandfather, Warren, who was in town for the four-game series in Kansas City. The two spent hours touring the building, soaking in the history of those that came before him and paved the way. Once they got to the Jackie Robinson section, Semien couldn’t help but feel appreciative.

“He opened a lot of doors for a lot of people,” Semien said. “Not only African-American players but players from all over, to come in this league and show their talent, and I'm very grateful for that."

It’s a similar feeling to the one Semien gets every year on April 15, Jackie Robinson Day, when he arrives to the clubhouse to see a No. 42 jersey hanging in his locker.

“You want to be in the big leagues on this day,” Semien said. “The opportunity he paved out for guys like me and a lot of guys on that field, we wouldn’t have had that opportunity if it wasn’t for him stepping up.”

Semien tries to place the same amount of importance on every game, but there always seems to be a hint of extra motivation playing on the traditional event. Since joining the A’s in 2015, the shortstop has found success on Jackie Robinson Day, going 5-for-16 (.313) with an RBI and two runs scored.

“It’s really cool to see 42s all over the field,” Semien said. “ I’m sure it’s hard for the broadcasters and announcers but we all think it’s fun. To honor a man who people are still talking about 100 years later for the hero he was, we all want to play for him.”