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'Always a special day': Twins, Torii honor Jackie's legacy

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins celebrated the 68th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking Major League Baseball's color barrier with a special ceremony at Target Field before Wednesday's game against the Royals.

The Twins showed a pregame video honoring Robinson and his impact on baseball, and Jackie Robinson Essay winners were also presented with awards.

Additionally, as has been tradition every April 15 since 2009, Major League Baseball celebrated Jackie Robinson Day with all players and on-field personnel wearing No. 42. Robinson's No. 42 was retired across all of Major League Baseball in '97.

:: Jackie Robinson Day | Civil Rights Game ::

"It's always cool to wear No. 42," Twins right fielder Torii Hunter said. "He opened doors for not just black Americans, but Latinos, Japanese, Koreans, Cubans. You're talking about everybody. He opened doors. And if he failed, who knows where baseball would be today?"

Hunter, 39, has long been an admirer of Robinson, who broke MLB's color barrier in 1947. This year marks the 70th anniversary of Robinson signing his first professional contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1945.

"It's always a special day," Hunter said. "Jackie Robinson, what he encountered in the game and endured, to have the strength and be focused and do his job well, you can't see anybody being able to go through that. I don't care what color you are. You can't go through what he went through and try to survive in anything. So I appreciate a guy with so much courage and so much strength to be able to endure that kind of stuff and have success on the field."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger.
Read More: Minnesota Twins, Torii Hunter