Girardi, Yanks honored to celebrate Robinson

April 16th, 2016
Yankees players head to the field wearing No. 42 on Friday. (Getty)

NEW YORK -- When the Yankees' starting lineup was announced over the loudspeaker prior to Friday night's game against the Mariners, a familiar number was read out again and again.

"Batting first for the Yankees, center fielder, No. 42, Jacoby Ellsbury, No. 42," the Yankee Stadium announcer said. "Batting second for the Yankees, left fielder, No. 42, Brett Gardner, No. 42. ..."

The Yankees, Mariners and every other team in Major League Baseball commemorated the 69th anniversary of the day Jackie Robinson played his first game with the Dodgers, breaking the color barrier. On Friday, every player and coach wore No. 42, a number that is retired across baseball every other day of the year, for Jackie Robinson Day.

:: Jackie Robinson Day coverage ::

Yankees manager Joe Girardi wasn't just wearing Robinson's number. Prior to Friday's game, Girardi entered his news conference wearing a T-shirt from the Jackie Robinson Foundation and spread the foundation's message.

"It perpetuates the memory of Jackie's historic achievements in life and in the game of baseball," Girardi said. "It also promotes higher education and leadership development for kids of color. I think since 1973 they've given over 1,400 scholarships for kids. It carries on the memory of Jackie."

Many others joined the celebration of Robinson. The national anthem was performed by the Renaissance Youth Music with a Message Choir, a group created with the aim of serving underprivileged, inner-city youths through arts education. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred was also on hand for the game, speaking at length about the importance of Robinson to the history of baseball and America.

"I think it means a lot," Girardi said. "I think it reminds us what people have to go through to be successful. Life is not easy. And you think of one of the greatest baseball players ever. To be able to wear his number tonight -- and everyone wears his number -- is pretty special."