D-backs honor Robinson in many ways

D-backs honor Robinson in many ways

PHOENIX -- Second baseman Orlando Hudson sat in the chair in front of his cubicle in the D-backs clubhouse Sunday morning, a No. 42 jersey hanging next to him.

"I'm just waiting for 1:40 to get here so I can actually put it on my back and get out there," Hudson said. "I can't wait."

Hudson, Eric Byrnes, Tony Clark, Scott Hairston, Chris Young and first-base coach Lee Tinsley all wore Robinson's No. 42 on a festive Jackie Robinson Day at Chase Field.

"It serves as an inspiration for me," said Tinsley, a former Major League player. "I'm honored and excited to wear his number today."

Clark and Hudson took out the lineup card and the D-backs honored members of a local Tuskegee Airmen chapter during a pregame ceremony. The club also awarded the Arizona Diamondbacks Jackie Robinson Lifetime Achievement Award to John Woodruff, who was a gold medalist in the 800-meter race during the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.

Introduced in 2004, Jackie Robinson Day was created to honor the enduring impact of Jackie Robinson and his legacy as the first African-American player to break the Major League color barrier. Robinson played his first Major League game at Ebbets Field on April 15, 1947, as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers. In honor of the 50th Anniversary of Robinson breaking the Major League color barrier in 1997, Robinson's uniform No. 42 was retired throughout the Major Leagues.

Robinson's memory lives on today in initiatives such as the Jackie Robinson Foundation, which was founded by Rachel Robinson in 1973 to provide education and leadership development opportunities for minority students with strong capabilities but limited financial resources, as well as Breaking Barriers, which utilizes baseball-themed activities to reinforce literacy skills, mathematics, science and social history while addressing critical issues of character development such as conflict resolution and self-esteem.

"It's hard to express, and without a doubt hard to comprehend, the obstacles he had to overcome," Clark said of Robinson. "To think that he preserved despite threats to himself and threats to himself so that Tony Clark would have the opportunity to play this game is special and appreciated."

Byrnes, who went to Robinson's alma mater UCLA, was the lone non-African-American to wear Robinson's jersey for Arizona.

"Look, I figured as more and more players throughout the league decided to wear No. 42, there are a couple of whole teams wearing it, in my mind if there was one person who was not African-American in the Major Leagues who was going to wear his number it was going to be me," Byrnes said. "Just because when I was in college, my thesis statement was on Jackie Robinson. It was a 60- to 80-page report about Jackie Robinson and who he was as a person, an athlete and a social pioneer. I became infatuated with him and his story."