‘Dear Rachel’: Major League Baseball Celebrates Jackie Robinson Day With A Special Tribute To His Wife

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April 15 is Jackie Robinson Day across Major League Baseball (MLB). Players wear Jackie’s famous No. 42 on the back of their jerseys in honor of the man who broke the color barrier in American professional sports 77 years ago in 1947 with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

The legacy and impact of Jackie Robinson have continued even though he is no longer with us. In a short feature video titled “Dear Rachel” posted by the Dodgers, countless influential people in and around the Dodgers organization directly thanked Rachel for her continued impact.

“I’m often asked the question who my hero is,” says Nichol Whiteman, CEO of the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation. “I undoubtedly respond my hero is you, Rachel Robinson,” according to MLB.com.

This year, the New York Mets celebrated the day with a special recognition. Before their game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Citi Field, the team presented Robinson’s widow, 101-year-old Rachel Robinson, with a bouquet of flowers, CBS News reports. The flowers were presented to Mrs. Robinson by Mets manager Carlos Mendoza and Mets legend Mookie Wilson.

Her grandson, Busro Robinson, threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Butch Huskey, who was the last Mets player to wear No. 42 before it was retired in 1997.

“Just to be in her presence, knowing that Jackie’s presence is right there with her, is enough for me. Just to be able to hug her and say, ‘Hello,’ and ‘How you doing,’ that’s quite a bit,” said Huskey.

“To be able to put the number on my back, to get the OK to wear it, and then have Mrs. Robinson’s blessing to wear the number, there’s not much more you could ask for,” said Huskey, according to MLB.com.

Robinson’s son David said that his mother is doing well. “Her good moments are as sharp as a tack,” he said. “And, she’s the legacy of perseverance.” 

“All the grandchildren know her expression is ‘onward and upward,” he added.

Each year, several players throughout the league donate their April 15 gameday salaries to the Players Alliance, which works to increase Black participation in organized baseball at all levels.

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