Players Alliance thanks Jackie for paving way

August 28th, 2020

Major League Baseball is celebrating Jackie Robinson Day on Friday, honoring and reflecting upon the courage, sacrifice and legacy of the man who broke baseball's color barrier 73 years ago.

The Players Alliance, a group of more than 100 Black current and former professional baseball players united to create increased opportunities for the Black community in every aspect of baseball, released a moving video message of thanks to Robinson, who risked everything to pave the way for the game's integration.

Current and former players, including Tim Anderson, Mookie Betts, Jason Heyward, Andrew McCutchen, Giancarlo Stanton, Prince Fielder, Curtis Granderson, Ryan Howard, Torii Hunter, Jimmy Rollins, CC Sabathia and others joined to deliver the video tribute. The group formed in June following the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, and its members have been among the most vocal this week as players across the league have chosen not to take the field to protest the shooting of Jacob Blake by a police officer in Kenosha, Wis., on Sunday.

On Thursday, members of the Players Alliance announced that they are donating their salaries from Thursday and Friday (Jackie Robinson Day) in order to, in the words of an official statement from the group, “combat racial inequality and aid Black families and communities deeply affected in the wake of recent events.”

Jackie Robinson Day is usually celebrated each year on the anniversary of Robinson's debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers, which came on April 15, 1947. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting delay to the start of the 2020 season, it was rescheduled to Friday, which is the 75th anniversary of Robinson’s meeting with Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey, in which Rickey told Robinson he wanted him to be the man to integrate Major League Baseball. It also marks the 57th anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, which Robinson attended with his family.


Friday is the 17th annual celebration of Jackie Robinson Day, on which every player around MLB wears the number 42 in homage to Robinson's number, which was retired across the Majors in 1997, on the 50th anniversary of his Major League debut.