ST. LOUIS -- As all Major League players and field personnel donned the No. 42 on Friday for Jackie Robinson Day, a couple of Reds players wore an additional tribute to Robinson in the game vs. the Cardinals to celebrate the 69th anniversary of his breaking baseball's color barrier.Center fielder
ST. LOUIS -- As all Major League players and field personnel donned the No. 42 on Friday for Jackie Robinson Day, a couple of Reds players wore an additional tribute to Robinson in the game vs. the Cardinals to celebrate the 69th anniversary of his breaking baseball's color barrier.
Center fielder Billy Hamilton and right fielder Jay Bruce wore special-edition spikes.
"It's a big day in baseball," Hamilton said. "You always want to celebrate big days like that. For me to wear those shoes, and everybody wear the jerseys, it's a big day. I'm excited about it."
Hamilton's spikes have a black-and-white newspaper motif with a montage of Robinson photos and headlines that celebrated his career. They also came with a silver sole.
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Bruce's black spikes carrying the No. 42 actually were a double tribute -- for Robinson and for Bruce's favorite player growing up, Ken Griffey Jr.
"It's [Griffey's] induction year," Bruce said. "So it's like a bronze bottom, and the tips on the [laces] are bronze and a bronze outline. Inside it says, 'Made to the exact specifications for Ken Griffey Jr.' He was the first guy to wear [42 in tribute]."
This summer, Griffey will be inducted into the Hall of Fame. While playing for the Reds in 2007, it was Griffey who petitioned Commissioner Bud Selig and Rachel Robinson for permission to wear 42 on Jackie Robinson Day, even though it had already been retired across baseball for a decade. From there, MLB allowed all players and coaches to wear 42 once a year.
Bruce had great appreciation for Robinson's trailblazing for baseball and society as a whole.
"Baseball-wise with Jackie, he pushed the envelope on allowing Major League Baseball to be the most competitive baseball in the world," Bruce said. "Without him doing that, and I'm sure it would have happened eventually, he was one huge piece to ensuring that the best players in the world played in the Major Leagues.
"To be able to play in the Major Leagues is so rare and so special, it wouldn't be as special if not everyone was allowed to play in the Major Leagues. To be able to say I play with the absolute best players from everywhere in the world, no matter the race, color or whatever, I think that's what really is special. … What he was doing wasn't just for baseball. It was for mankind, really."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.