Jackie Robinson Day celebrated in space Terry Virts, aboard the International Space Station. Jackie Robinson, in 1948, at left. (@AstroTerry / Twitter; AP photo)
Jackie Robinson Day celebrated in space
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Jackie Robinson Day was celebrated again this year. It was even celebrated in space.

April 15 marked the 68th anniversary of Robinson breaking the major league color barrier. Before Robinson, no African-American had been allowed to play Major League Baseball. His team, the Dodgers, announced they will erect a statue of him at their ballpark.

Rachel Robinson, the player's 92-year-old widow, and Commissioner Rob Manfred honored MLB's first black player in a ceremony at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. The ceremony was in conjunction with the annual Civil Rights Game. Meanwhile, astronaut Terry Virts wore a Dodgers jersey with Robinson's No. 42 along with a Brooklyn cap at the International Space Station. Virts was orbiting the Earth.

"I can remember reading a book about Jackie when I was in the first grade," Virts said in a video posted on MLB.com. "Jackie, alongside his wife Rachel, opened up a world of opportunities that had been closed to so many Americans simply because of the color of their skin. What he did took courage. A lot of courage. He had to endure things that most of us could not imagine. And he had to do it while maintaining composure that most of us couldn't begin to muster."

Robinson's No. 42 was retired throughout the major leagues in 1997. Players already using the number were allowed to continue to wear it. Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera was the last player to don the number. That was in 2013. Then-Commissioner Bud Selig decided in 2005 that all teams would honor Robinson each April 15. Every major league player, manager and coach on the field wears No. 42 on the date.

"Jackie is the most historic figure who ever played the game. So it's fitting that we honor his legacy by adding the Civil Rights Game on the same day as Jackie Robinson Day," Manfred said.

Manfred and Rachel Robinson spoke prior to a Dodgers game. They were flanked by team owner Magic Johnson and club President Stan Kasten. It was announced that a statue of Robinson will be erected and placed on the stadium's grounds sometime this year. The location has yet to be determined.

"It's a true blessing for me to sit here with Rachel and understand what her husband has meant to changing society, changing the world and changing baseball," Johnson said. His eyes were glistening. "I feel like he's still here his presence, his legacy."

Rachel Robinson, whose children also were on hand, was escorted to the pitcher's mound by Sandy Koufax, the Hall of Fame pitcher. A video presentation was shown on the scoreboards. A No. 42 was stenciled on the back slope of the mound and behind second base. It was Robinson's position.

Most fans wore Dodgers jerseys with Robinson's number on the back. The jerseys were distributed when fans entered the ballpark.

Robinson was a six-time All-Star, the 1947 major league Rookie of the Year and the NL MVP in 1949. That year, he won the National League's batting title. At the time, the Dodgers played in Brooklyn. It's a borough of New York City. Robinson died in 1972.

"Jackie was the only black man that I knew of at that time who could have done the job that he did and do it with the pride that he did it," former teammate Don Newcombe said. "That's why he was so respected. Martin Luther King came to my house one night for dinner 28 days before he died in Memphis. He said to me: 'Don, I want you and Jackie and Roy Campanella and Larry Doby to know that without you, I would never have made it as successfully as I have in civil rights if it were not for what you men did on the baseball field.'"

In New York, Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson wore special spikes with Robinson's No. 42 on the side.

Opening-day major league baseball rosters included 8.3 percent of players who identified as African-American. That is according to the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida. It was a slight increase from 8.2 last year, which equaled the study low set in 2007.

"We all recognize that there's a tremendous amount of athletes that are migrating to football and basketball," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "Create more space in the inner cities is one possible way to do it."

Critical thinking challenge: What is meant by the phrase breaking the major league color barrier?

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COMMENTS (57)
  • arkimr1018
    4/20/2015 - 02:30 p.m.

    That's good they are celebrating Jackie Robinson. Him and other athletes inspired me to be an athlete. So it's also good because it's apart of black history.

  • Larry Carter
    4/20/2015 - 04:10 p.m.

    I think that it is cool to honor Jackie Robinson Day in space because Most of the time it's here on earth and this changes the true definition of appreciation for certain people and I also think that it would be cool to play a baseball game in space. Although it would take a long time to finish it would still be cool.

  • Lucas252
    4/20/2015 - 06:58 p.m.

    Jackie Robinson was a huge influence on the world that it was not just celebrated on land, it was celebrated in space too. I think that Jackie Robinson deserves that respect because now it is half white and half black people in sports.

  • Eriku2
    4/20/2015 - 07:00 p.m.

    This article is about jacki Robinson day. It is a holiday known all the way across America. It is now being celebrated in space. I think this is good because it represents equality.

  • CarsonP-2
    4/20/2015 - 07:00 p.m.

    April 15 marked the 68th anniversary of Robinson breaking the major league color barrier. Before Robinson, no African-American had been allowed to play Major League Baseball. His team, the Dodgers, announced they will erect a statue of him at their ballpark

  • allies-4
    4/20/2015 - 09:35 p.m.

    Jackie Robinson Day was celebrated today, but with an interesting twist. It was celebrated in space. Robinson was the first African American man to play in Major League baseball. Many attended the Dodgers game sporting Robinson's number 42, and team owners hosted a celebration in his honor. A video was aired of the six-time all star and it was announced that a statue will be put up on the Dodger grounds. This day is celebrated with respect all around the MLB world and every player, coach, and manager proudly boasts a jersey with Jackie's number on it.

  • BenjaminL
    4/21/2015 - 10:19 a.m.

    I would considered Jackie Robinson to be the first black to help break the racial barrier in terms of society goes, but not the most influencial as MLK.

  • elenaa-Eic
    4/21/2015 - 10:35 a.m.

    Jackie Robinson was a great person from what I hear if I were in the major league i would build astatue in of Jackie Robinson's memorie but why would they go to space i dont really get it

  • genesisl-boo
    4/21/2015 - 11:13 a.m.

    What the phrase "breaking the major league color barrier" meant was that, Jackie Robinson was the first African American baseball player so he obliterated the law that only white people could play MLB.

  • laurenm-boo
    4/21/2015 - 11:17 a.m.

    Jackie Robinson Day was celebrated again this year. It was even celebrated in space.
    April 15 marked the 68th anniversary of Robinson breaking the major league color barrier. Before Robinson, no African American had been allowed to play Major League Baseball. His team, the Dodgers, announced they will erect a statue of him at their ballpark.

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