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Royals say Jackie's Day cause for celebration

MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Royals will join all of Major League Baseball in marking Jackie Robinson Day on Tuesday, in commemoration of his breaking the game's color barrier.

"What he did back in the day when society really wasn't accepting interracial baseball speaks for itself," said Royals outfielder Justin Maxwell. "He literally risked his life to play the game he loved. At the time he didn't know the ramifications of what could possibly happen from that, but he just wanted to play baseball in the big leagues. He got that chance and I thank God for it."

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MINNEAPOLIS -- The Royals will join all of Major League Baseball in marking Jackie Robinson Day on Tuesday, in commemoration of his breaking the game's color barrier.

"What he did back in the day when society really wasn't accepting interracial baseball speaks for itself," said Royals outfielder Justin Maxwell. "He literally risked his life to play the game he loved. At the time he didn't know the ramifications of what could possibly happen from that, but he just wanted to play baseball in the big leagues. He got that chance and I thank God for it."

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Maxwell was among many players who saw the movie "42" that came out a year ago chronicling Robinson's struggles and successes.

"I had a chance to see that movie last year and it was really, really well done," Maxwell said. "To play in places where racism was still prevalent and to play the game of baseball as well, and the way he did to actually have white people cheer for him back in the day, that speaks volumes. Because, I think once people became fans of his, they stopped looking at the color of his skin and they realized that he really is a talented baseball player, and it kind of just took off from there."

Today's players have benefited because of the sacrifices made by Robinson and the African-Americans who followed him.

"Being married and having to worry about your wife off the field, and just trying to hide and find places to live in cities that wouldn't let him stay in the team hotel," Maxwell said. "Nowadays, we don't even have to think twice about it and it's just because of him stepping out of his comfort zone and getting a chance with the Dodgers is, I think, amazing. Had that never happened a lot of us would have never had the opportunity to play the game,"

The Royals and the Astros players will wear Robinson's uniform number, 42, on Tuesday.

"He went through a lot to break the color barrier in baseball and it's tough to do what he did in that era. He went through so much in off-the-field issues and on-the-field issues," Royals outfielder Jarrod Dyson said. "To still have a positive mind frame, to still play hard says a lot about that guy.

"He made the way for us today in baseball and we're thankful for that. I don't know if I could've been strong enough to go through all that. I'd have probably given up and lost hope. But he was a strong man and had his priorities in order, had his goals set and he accomplished his goals."

Robinson made his Major League debut on April 15, 1947, with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

"I think it's great that the team recognizes his legacy every year and that we have a special day for him," Maxwell said. "I know he's in the back of my mind when I play the game because I'm grateful for what he did."

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com.

Kansas City Royals