Rachel Robinson is three months away from her 100th birthday. It’s been 75 years since her husband, Jackie, played his first regular season game with the Brooklyn Dodgers, breaking a ban on black players that had persisted since the 19th century.
What he told her that morning – “I’ll be number 42, just in case you had a hard time picking me” – is cause for celebration every April 15, when every Major League Baseball player wears jersey number 42 in honor of Robinson.
Rachel Robinson took center stage Friday at Dodger Stadium, where she was celebrated in a pregame ceremony ahead of the Dodgers’ game against the Cincinnati Reds. Retired players Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson presented him with a jacket courtesy of the non-profit Players Alliance. Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts gave him a hug.
Continuing an April 15 tradition, Dodgers players gathered around the statue of Jackie Robinson before the game. Jackie and Rachel’s son David Robinson joined manager Dave Roberts to discuss the historical significance of April 15, 1947 beyond baseball.