Dodgers’ Manager Writes About Jackie Robinson
By Alex Campos
The Dodgers have a storied past with civil rights, and the first minority manager in team history wrote about it.
There are some franchises that are synonymous with an individual. When you think about the Baltimore Orioles, for example, Cal Ripken Jr. has to be the first person to come to mind.
When you think about the Dodgers, it’s not so clear-cut. You can think about the best players in team history, such as Sandy Koufax. You can think about the voice of baseball and the voice of all our summers, Vin Scully. Or you can think about the individual that changed baseball forever, Jackie Robinson.
February is Black History Month, and Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts wrote about what Robinson’s influence meant to him from a personal standpoint. Roberts is the 32nd manager in Dodger history, but only the 10th since the team came out West in 1958. Roberts, who is half-black, half-Japanese, is the first minority manager in franchise history and one of two black managers in the MLB.
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Roberts, who attended UCLA and played his home games at Jackie Robinson Field, touched on the impact Robinson’s legacy made on his life growing up. He went into detail about the first time he played on Jackie Robinson Day. Now, pretty much every player on every team wears Robinson’s number, 42, which is the only number retired by all 30 major league teams. Back in 2006 (the only Jackie Robinson Day that Roberts played in as a Padre), teams got to delegate a player to wear 42, and Roberts was selected by his teammates. Here’s an excerpt from Roberts on this honor.
"But that day was special for me. I wore my pants up, and I kind of was getting my lead like Jackie, and I just kind of felt Jackie inside of me, and I really wanted to show well that day. And my body felt great, and it was just a huge honor to be one of two people that day, myself and the opponent — I don’t recall who it was — wearing No. 42."
In Roberts’ two seasons as a Padre, he only played once on April 15. That came in 2006, and the Padres were shut out by John Smoltz in Atlanta. Roberts went 1-for-3 with a sac bunt in that game.
Roberts played in 835 regular season games and 12 postseason games in his 10-year career, so it’s understandable for him not to remember exactly who he played on this one day. However, remembering how he wore his pants, the types of leads he took and how he felt shows exactly how much it meant for him to receive that honor.
Coincidentally enough, Roberts’ first game as Dodger manager will be against those Padres on April 4 in San Diego. Jackie Robinson Day is on April 15th every year, the anniversary of Robinson’s debut. This year marks the 69th anniversary of the debut, and the Dodgers will be at home against the Giants for the game.
The full text written by Roberts can be found here.