Nine runs, over a dozen hits and five stolen bases.
Once again, number 42 comes through for the Dodgers in a big way.
In a game where the Dodgers commemorated the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking Major League Baseball's color barrier, they honored his memory in perhaps the best way possible--with a 9-3 win over the visiting San Diego Padres before a sold-out crowd at Dodger Stadium. And the way they did it would have made Jackie proud.
The occasion was marked with a pre-game ceremony in which Jackie's widow Rachel Robinson, baseball commissioner Bud Selig and Dodger broadcaster Vin Scully recalled Robinson's character, competetive spirit and contributions to society as a civil rights pioneer.
The ceremony concluded with Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson singing the National Anthem followed by the ceremonial first pitch, thrown out by two Hall of Famers who followed Robinson's path to the majors, Frank Robinson (no relation) and Henry Aaron.
Then the Dodgers took the field with a tribute of their own--every one of them wearing the number 42 once famously worn by the Dodger Hall of Famer.
The commissioner's office granted special permission allowing players and teams to honor Robinson by wearing the number on this occasion. The number was retired by every major league team a decade ago--to honor Robinson on the 50th anniversary of his debut.
The Dodger offense scored the way Robinson would have--with timely hitting and aggressive base running. They collected 13 hits and stole five bases. Nobody stole home, though, something Jackie did 19 times in his 10-year career.
In a side story, the game was sort of a coming-out party for right fielder Andre Ethier. The sophomore had three hits, including a two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning that put the game out of reach. Ethier hadn't driven in a single run this season until that at-bat.
Dodger starter Randy Wolf wasn't especially impressive on the mound but his pitching, when coupled with the Dodgers' offensive explosion, kept the Padres from mounting a serious challenge. Wolf surrendered three runs in six innings of work, with relievers Jonathan Broxton, Joe Beimel and Takashi Saito shutting them out the rest of the way.
Padre starter Chris Young didn't fare as well. Young surrendered five runs in three innings and left the game with runners in scoring position. The outcome could have been much worse for the Friars--L.A. twice struck out with the bases loaded and left a total 11 runners on base.
According to Yahoo, the idea of un-retiring the number for one game came from a call to Commissioner Selig by Cincinnati Reds outfielder Ken Griffey, Jr., who wanted to wear Robinson's 42 as a tribute. News of this spread and other players, including the Dodgers' Juan Pierre, made the same inquiry.
Eventually the commissioner made the exception and allowed the number to be worn by any player on that date. But it was Dodger president Jamie McCourt who decided that the entire team would wear number 42. And they were thrilled to be a part of it.
"This is a very special day," Pierre told MLB.com. "I'm glad I was here to see this. It might not happen again in my lifetime."
Fellow outfielder Andre Ethier also told MLB.com that when he put on the No. 42 jersey, "It got me pumped up and got the team pumped up. If we lost this one, Jackie would be rolling over in his grave."
Manager Grady Little felt that maybe the jerseys had brought some good luck to the team, who had lost 13 of 19 meetings with San Diego last season. "We might keep those jerseys around a little bit," Little said.
The win puts the Dodgers half a game behind the Arizona Diamondbacks for first place in the National League West, and they'll get the chance to overtake the D'Backs tonight in Phoenix.
Copyright © 2010 Marquis McClure
Dodgers honor Robinson's legacy with 9-3 win
Copyright © 2010 Marquis McClure
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