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Pendleton: Players need to know Jackie's history

PHILADELPHIA -- In a scene in the movie 42, which is based on Jackie Robinson's breaking of the baseball color barrier, Dodgers shortstop Pee Wee Reese comes across the infield during a game against the Reds and puts his arm around Robinson to show his solidarity with the Dodgers first baseman. Reese grew up in Louisville, Ky., so on that day in Cincinnati, he had family in the stands.

Many years later, Reese sat with a young infielder with the Louisville Redbirds, and he again made an impact in a fellow athlete's life.

"I had the opportunity that not many got to do [because of Robinson]," Braves first-base coach Terry Pendleton said. "When I was in Triple-A Louisville, I got to sit down and hang out with Pee Wee Reese and had an opportunity to talk to him. That was very special to me.

"It's important for the younger players to understand the history. Most of them, if you asked them, they wouldn't know who Curt Flood was. It's important for them to know who paved the way for them."

Of course, Reese didn't go through anything like Robinson, who has a day in his honor every season, did. On Wednesday, players and coaches on the Braves and Phillies wore No. 42 to celebrate the 11th annual Jackie Robinson Day.

"It's absolutely a highlight for every player, batter, pitcher and fan in the stadium," Braves outfielder Jason Heyward said. "It's almost as important as doing things for your military and veterans. It's just to remind you of integration and everybody being treated as equal. I feel like any time you can remind yourself of that and pay homage to that, it's a good thing.

"In elementary school, I read a couple of books [about Robinson]. I read a couple of more in middle school and saw a movie he was actually in. I read one more in high school. Since then, there have been constant reminders, and that's a good thing."

It's still different today for Heyward than it was for Pendleton, let alone Robinson. That's not lost on the veteran coach.

"I think what Jackie went through for the rest of us is remarkable," Pendleton said. "I ask myself, 'Is that something you could have done?' For me, no. I couldn't have endured what he did. It's just remarkable. I'm sure he questioned himself, but he had a vision for more of us to get an opportunity."

Michael Radano is a contributor to
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