DENVER -- Rockies outfielder Brandon Barnes grew up in Anaheim, Calif. He rooted for UCLA and was going to go there to play football, but Barnes ended up at Cypress College following a coaching change at UCLA that resulted in the loss of his scholarship offer.Regardless, Barnes was well aware
DENVER -- Rockies outfielder Brandon Barnes grew up in Anaheim, Calif. He rooted for UCLA and was going to go there to play football, but Barnes ended up at Cypress College following a coaching change at UCLA that resulted in the loss of his scholarship offer.
Regardless, Barnes was well aware that Jackie Robinson went to UCLA, which was just another reason for Barnes to be attracted to and appreciate Robinson. Barnes is an energetic player, who runs out every ball and in some ways emulates Robinson's style.
"I've seen video of him and heard stories about him from my grandfather," Barnes said. "The way he played ... he played every day to win. He played as hard as he could. That's a big reason why I play the way I do. Guys that come before us teach us how to play the game right. Jackie did that, on and off the field."
When the Rockies open a series against the Cubs on Friday at Wrigley Field on Jackie Robinson Day around the Majors, Barnes will proudly exchange his uniform No. 1 for Robinson's No. 42, like every other player.
"This will be the third time I get to wear 42," Barnes said. "I think every time you wear it, it's such an honor. It reminds you of who Jackie was as a baseball player and as a human."
Barnes grew up in a poorer section of Anaheim and didn't reach the Majors until his eighth professional season. While nothing has come easy in the game, Barnes can't fathom what Robinson endured.
"He went through all these terrible things at a terrible time," Barnes said. "He never wavered. He never fought back. He continued to give to the sport and he gave back to charities and with [his work for the cause of] civil rights."
Jack Etkin is a contributor to MLB.com.