Friday’s games took a bit of a backseat as teams around MLB celebrated the 75th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
It was a day of ceremonies and tributes that almost didn’t happen due to the lockout. If the owners and players had taken a few more days to reach a deal on a new collective bargaining agreement, Friday’s schedule would have been a tragic casualty. Thankfully, MLB didn’t have to deal with that black eye.
In a cool move, as all MLB uniformed personnel wore Robinson’s No. 42, the number on the back of all jerseys was for the first time identical in style and color to the 42 he wore April 15, 1947 (yes, Dodger blue — even on San Francisco Giants jerseys!). Many players donated their game-day salaries to the Players Alliance, which benefits inner-city and rural baseball teams.
Jackie Robinson was so much more than a baseball player. #Jackie42 pic.twitter.com/aJybaEqe5A
— MLB (@MLB) April 15, 2022
Jackie Remembered Around MLB
There were countless ways Robinson’s legacy was honored around baseball. From simple or intricate designs on cleats to ceremonies to inscriptions on gloves to patches on jerseys and caps, players, managers, and coaches found their own way to honor Robinson’s history-making moment and career. Robinson’s widow, Rachel, and son David were at Dodger Stadium and provided some inspirational moments.
Here is a spin around MLB, with a small sample of those gestures:
The Dodgers gathered around the Jackie Robinson statue prior to tonight’s game to hear from Jackie’s son David. #Jackie42 pic.twitter.com/kU36HsLIb2
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) April 16, 2022
It’s an honor to have you at Dodger Stadium, Mrs. Robinson. #JackieRobinsonDay pic.twitter.com/UZg3akAp3Q
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) April 16, 2022
Today, we all wear 42. #Jackie42 pic.twitter.com/T9Zg4azCiO
— Texas Rangers (@Rangers) April 16, 2022
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) April 15, 2022
In honor of the great Jackie Robinson on the 75th anniversary of his momentous Opening Day, here's a story about what Jackie faced, his teammates' support, and the tradition of commemorating April 15th. pic.twitter.com/GFYaOTHCzv
— Vin Scully (@TheVinScully) April 15, 2022
Our Black Giants took a moment to reflect and speak their minds on #JackieRobinsonDay.
We encourage you to listen to their words as a complement to this weekend’s on-field tributes to #Jackie42, and we look forward to sharing highlights from next Spring’s Black Giants cookout. pic.twitter.com/rrhebV6Lcb
— SFGiants (@SFGiants) April 15, 2022
On #JackieRobinsonDay, we’re thrilled to announce our new initiative to tell the story of Black baseball, culminating with the opening of a new exhibit in April 2024. pic.twitter.com/SMzWwjPL2m
— National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum ⚾ (@baseballhall) April 15, 2022
A mural celebrating Jackie Robinson was unveiled today at his high school alma mater, John Muir HS, in Pasadena. #Jackie42 pic.twitter.com/emHlhvRd9z
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) April 15, 2022
Three months after Robinson’s debut, Larry Doby became the second Black player to appear in the majors when he played for the Cleveland Indians on July 5, 1947. Renamed the Guardians before this season, some Cleveland players gave a nod to both players. Doby was the first player to go directly from the Negro Leagues to MLB.
Myles Straw and a few other @CleGuardians are paying tribute to both Larry Doby and Jackie Robinson with custom cleats tonight.#ForTheLand | #Jackie42 | @DreKnott pic.twitter.com/V0scpJWjsM
— Bally Sports Cleveland (@BallySportsCLE) April 16, 2022
While Friday had tremendous meaning for a lot of players, it had a special place in Cincinnati Reds rookie pitcher Hunter Greene’s story. Greene grew up in the Sherman Oaks region of Los Angeles, where the Dodgers relocated before the 1958 season. Greene, the second overall pick of the 2017 draft, will make his second career MLB appearance when he starts Saturday’s game at Dodger Stadium.
"It was a dream … Jackie Robinson is my favorite player. The history, being able to see his daughter, that was really cool."
In 2013, @HunterGreene17 won the Breaking Barriers essay award presented by Sharon Robinson.
Today, he continues to pave the way in @mlb . #Jackie42 pic.twitter.com/BkJwfYGPeB
— MLBRBI (@MLBRBI) April 15, 2022
Special day, special place.@HunterGreene17 | #JackieRobinsonDay pic.twitter.com/Rr2hQOinnu
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) April 16, 2022
Mets Honor Seaver
There were multiple celebrations for the New York Mets at Citi Field. In addition to it being Jackie Robinson Day, it was the home opener and the unveiling of a statue for Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver.
A three-time NL Cy Young Award winner with the Mets (1969, 1973, 1975), the statue featuring the drop-and-drive delivery for “Tom Terrific” is located outside the stadium behind the Home Run Apple. Seaver died on Aug. 31, 2020. The 3,200-pound statue, which was delivered from sculptor William Behrends’ North Carolina studio in nine pieces, is 13 feet, 6 inches long, and 10 feet high.
Seaver is considered perhaps the best player in Mets history, leading New York to three NL pennants and the 1969 World Series championship.
Forever 4️⃣1️⃣. #LGM pic.twitter.com/GtOchbEzGq
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 15, 2022
No Vax, No Entry
Friday was the second home series for the Toronto Blue Jays, but for the first time, players who are not vaccinated for COVID-19 were denied entry into Canada. It is Canadian policy not to allow unvaccinated nonresidents to cross the border. The U.S. has the same policy. The Texas Rangers were able to bring their full Opening Day contingent to Toronto.
But the Oakland A’s were the first team affected, having to place three players on the restricted list — relievers A.J. Puk and Kirby Snead, as well as backup catcher Austin Allen. Also, outfielder Stephen Piscotty was placed on the COVID injured list. Players on the restricted list do not receive a salary or service time for time missed.
Don’t worry, I’m sure New York Yankees fans will react calmly when the Bombers head to Toronto for the first time for a May 2-4 series and are expected to be without at least one key player.
The A's put three players on the restricted list and one on COVID-19-related IL before their opener in Toronto. The team did not specify reasons for the moves; the restricted list is an option for unvaccinated players who can't travel to Canada: https://t.co/FbhrdJROg3
— Matt Kawahara (@matthewkawahara) April 15, 2022
Shohei Powers Up
As you might expect following the monster offensive season that Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani had last year, much has been made of the brief struggles of the reigning American League MVP.
Entering Friday, Ohtani was just 5-for-29 with one walk and 10 strikeouts. Chalk it up to feeling the pressure to repeat the 46 homers and 100 RBIs of 2021 or a lockout-shortened spring training (likely the latter).
That changed quickly in the second game of the series against the Rangers when the lefty-hitting slugger belted his first homer of the season on the first pitch of the game. Proving it wasn’t a fluke, Ohtani cranked out a 415-foot blast in the fifth inning, a two-run shot. (There is more to this game: See the next item!)
First pitch of the game ➡️ first HR of the season for Shohei Ohtani! #GoHalos pic.twitter.com/lIFyT2BPFy
— Los Angeles Angels (@Angels) April 16, 2022
And then Ohtani donned a cowboy hat:
YALL….ITS BACK! Ohtani quickly makes it 1-0! 🤠🤠🤠 pic.twitter.com/uHVSH1kFSn
— Erica Weston (@EricaLWeston) April 16, 2022
He Did What?
Angels manager Joe Maddon took a page out of former Arizona Diamondbacks skipper Buck Showalter’s playbook. Showalter famously intentionally walked Giants slugger Barry Bonds with the bases loaded and a two-run lead and two outs in the ninth inning on May 28, 1998. It worked as the D’backs won 8-7.
Fast-forward to Friday. Maddon, never one to be outdone, did the same thing for a second time in his managerial career, this time with Rangers shortstop Corey Seager at the plate. In this case, the stakes were a lot lower as Maddon’s decision came with the Angels trailing 3-2 with one out in the bottom of the fourth inning. It backfired in the moment as the Rangers went on to score two more in the fourth for a 6-2 advantage. But Maddon had the last laugh as the Angels roared back for a 9-6 victory.
Maddon, as the Tampa Bay Devil Rays’ bench boss, also intentionally passed Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton with the bases juiced on Aug. 17, 2008.
The Angels just intentionally walked Corey Seager with the bases loaded! pic.twitter.com/PXyda9F6az
— Jomboy Media (@JomboyMedia) April 16, 2022
Bauer May Force Decision
Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer hasn’t pitched since June 28 of last season due to an investigation of alleged sexual assault by one woman on two occasions. MLB and the MLB Players Association agreed to a series of paid administrative leave for the rest of the season and, in spring training, extended through Saturday. On Wednesday, that leave was pushed to April 22.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office declined to file charges in the incident. The lockout prevented the MLB Commissioner’s Office from talking with Bauer after the DA dropped its case. MLB has been investigating whether Bauer violated the policy against sexual assault and domestic violence.
Now comes word from Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times that Bauer might attempt to show up at Dodger Stadium on Sunday to challenge whether there is a binding agreement on the recent extension of his leave.
What ultimately might happen, Shaikin reports, is that Commissioner Rob Manfred could issue a suspension by the end of Saturday to prevent any public spectacle.
Do MLB and the MLBPA have a binding agreement to extend Trevor Bauer's leave past Saturday? Bauer is looking into it.https://t.co/sxT7pnnKFk
— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) April 15, 2022
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)