Manager Dave Roberts and the Los Angeles Dodgers welcomed 60 softball and baseball players from John Muir High School to Dodger Stadium on Monday for a celebration of Jackie Robinson on what was his 103rd birthday.
Roberts served as host of the event, and he was joined via video conference by David Robinson, one of Jackie and Rachel’s three children. Roberts and the youngest of the three Robinson children shared their perspective of the famed Dodgers icon.
“This is a real treat. First off, the Dodgers want to welcome you guys here. I remember being your age and having an opportunity to talk to Major League players and NFL players. So for me now to be where I’m at right now, looking at you guys, and look at the man behind me, it’s going to be a special day,” Roberts began.
Celebrating Jackie's birthday at Dodger Stadium. pic.twitter.com/pJjtUV8bWJ
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) February 1, 2022
“I think part of my job and the thing that gives me some of the most joy with my job is being a storyteller. I think you guys know the name Jackie Robinson and his impact, but to hear it from me and his son David, it’s going to be really rewarding, exciting and it’s also going to equip you guys to tell the story yourself.
“That’s what creates a legacy and ultimately is history. For me to be the first man of color to manage the Dodgers, and also be bi-racial and have Asian decent, I hold very dear to my heart.”
David shared what inspiration and life lessons were learned from his father, specifically highlighting acts of service and kindness over monetary accomplishments.
“We had a trophy room in our house. A fairly substantial room, the glass case had all kinds of baseball awards, there was a gold-plated shoe,” Robinson recalled. “On the back and around the room were plaques, and all of those plaques talked about being given in recognition of service, in recognition of loyalty, in recognition of sacrifice, in recognition of contributions toward development.
“I had the opportunity in my life to be blessed to see a fair amount of wealth, a fair amount of power and been in the presence of presidents, been in some of the most expensive hotels, been around some rich people. Nothing ever measured up to the importance of the words on those plaques. I couldn’t see any dollar amount.
“My father never became a wealthy man, and his objective was never to become wealthy. Wealth was not an issue in the 1940s, ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. Development, what you were doing for your fellow man, for your race and therefore humanity, those were the issues. That was what I learned from my father, from that generation and that era.
“I hope young people can get a sense today, because there are a lot of distractions in this world and a lot of focus on material gains. A lot of credit is given for wealth, when in fact the most valuable thing my father taught me was the value of service.”
Celebrating Jackie Robinson Day
Every April 15, Major League Baseball celebrates Jackie Robinson Day and his retired No. 42 jersey. This year marks the 75th anniversary of Robinson breaking the color barrier.
“I think it’s a great thing,” Robinson said of his father being recognized every season. “If you’re able to go into retirement and be honored and worn in special ceremonies by all the players in baseball, you’re brought back.
“How much more glorious can it be than that? I know that more honor and respect will be delivered to the No. 42 in the years to come.”
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