Dodgers honored to don same jersey as Jackie
Newcombe, Davis throw first pitches on day saluting Robinson
LOS ANGELES -- Dee Gordon wasn't born until long after Jackie Robinson had broken baseball's color barrier by playing his first game for the Dodgers 65 years ago Sunday.
But when Gordon saw the No. 42 jersey with "Dodgers" across the chest hanging in his locker, the significance of Robinson's immense legacy within baseball and American history was not lost on the 23-year-old Los Angeles shortstop.
"To be able to put that on, that's the jersey he wore," Gordon said. "I'm honored to be able to wear it. He gave me the chance. If he wasn't able to take the things he went through, and just turn the other cheek, and play a great game of baseball, I probably wouldn't be here today."
Gordon and the rest of the Dodgers celebrated Jackie Robinson Day on Sunday by donning No. 42 jerseys and wearing the Brooklyn "B" on their caps. In essence, the entire team was wearing the same uniform Robinson wore when he played his historic first game at Ebbets Field in 1947.
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Don Newcombe and Tommy Davis, former Dodgers whose lives and careers were influenced greatly by Robinson, threw out ceremonial first pitches before Sunday's Padres-Dodgers game. Before they took the mound, the left-field screen played a four-minute tribute to Robinson.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly constantly immerses himself in the game's history, and he noted Sunday "it's pretty cool what this organization represents." He often preaches the club's legacy to his team, but he said before Sunday's game no discussion was needed. Everyone within the Dodgers is already well aware of Robinson's legacy, he said.
"He was the trailblazer, and this was the team," Mattingly said. "Obviously he's honored all throughout baseball, but being in our organization, it's different."
As part of the pregame ceremonies on Jackie Robinson Day, the First African Methodist Episcopal Church Unity Choir sang the national anthem with the American Legion Jackie Robinson Post presenting the colors. Seven of the Dodgers' Team 42 scholars, who receive college scholarships through the Dodgers Dream Foundation and the Jackie Robinson Foundation, were recognized on the field before the game.
For closer Javy Guerra, it's a privilege to put on a Dodgers shirt every day. But doing so on April 15, his first Jackie Robinson Day in the Major Leagues, took on an even greater significance.
"You put on the uniform every day, and you know what the 'Dodgers' on it represents, but I think on Jackie Robinson Day it makes it even more special," Guerra said. "It means a lot to me personally, being a minority, and knowing what he did for the game."
Guerra said finding Robinson's legacy is as simple as looking at the diversity within clubhouses throughout Major League Baseball.
"You don't really realize how far the game has come and what has changed and how far we've come," Guerra said. "Just look at what he's changed -- look at the game now. It's never been better."
In one of his more famous quotes, Robinson once said, "A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives."
The No. 42 jerseys worn throughout Dodger Stadium on Sunday and the vast assortment of ethnic backgrounds of those wearing them was proof enough of the impact of Robinson's.
AJ Cassavell is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.