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Salt Lake Bees, baseball remember Jackie Robinson

Published April 16, 2017 9:18 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Bees outfielder Eric Young Jr., who has spent at least part of each of the past eight seasons in the majors, went 3-for-4 with a home run and double in Friday night's loss to Sacramento.

Prior to Saturday's game, he spoke about the legacy of Jackie Robinson.

Young, an African-American whose father also played in the majors, grew up around the game of baseball and has played 563 MLB games. He's well aware of Robinson's sacrifices in breaking baseball's color barrier.

Robinson endured intimidation tactics on and off the field, including racial slurs as well as verbal and physical abuse, in becoming the player who integrated the majors on April 15, 1947. He went on to win the NL Rookie of the Year in 1947, win the NL MVP in 1949, become a six-time All-Star and be enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

"First off [I was] thankful," Young said of Robinson. "He put up with a lot of stuff to allow not only my dad and myself to play this game but for a lot of others. There were some tactics, there were some things done to him that that I don't think just everybody could handle.

"It took the right person at the right time to be able to go into a situation like that where they were going to be brutalized — not only physically but mentally and emotionally — and still come out on top and still play successfully. Throughout all that, he opened the door for a lot of African-American players and, I believe, opened the door for Latin players as well."

Bees relief pitcher Keynan Middleton commemorated Jackie Robinson Day by wearing Adidas cleats with Robinson's signature on the side. Several players in the majors wore similar cleats this weekend, including New York Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson and Washington Nationals star Bryce Harper.

The Bees marked Jackie Robinson Day with video clips on the videoboard between innings. The clips include an interview with former Utah Jazz coach Frank Layden, who attended Robinson's major league debut at Ebbets Field.

Major League Baseball celebrated Jackie Robinson Day with every player wearing Robinson's jersey number 42. MLB retired his number across the majors on April 15, 1997, the 50th anniversary of Robinson's debut.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of Robinson's debut in the majors with the Brooklyn Dodgers and became the first African-American player in the majors. The Los Angeles Dodgers unveiled a bronze statue of Robinson sliding into home plate in the left-field plaza at Dodger Stadium earlier on Saturday afternoon.






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