Granderson appreciates Robinson's legacy
NEW YORK -- Jackie Robinson's legacy is sacred for everyone in Major League Baseball. As Yankees manager Joe Girardi said, "He's an example for all of us. At times, we're all going to be tested in life. It's just a great day, and I think players look forward to it. It's an honor to put on No. 42."
Still, it's different for minorities because they walked through doors that Robinson opened. On Opening Day, 203 Major League players were from Latin America.
"You look at our coaching staff," Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson said. "We have a Latin American bench coach [Tony Pena]. We have an African-American bullpen coach [Mike Harkey]. You just look at the diversity. It all started with Jackie Robinson 65 years ago. Helping the Civil Rights movement. Helping open up many doors, for any and everybody."
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Granderson wore shoes inscribed with No. 42 in Sunday night's game against the Angels and was planning to wear two jerseys during the contest. The Yankees will auction the shoes and one of the jerseys to benefit the Jackie Robinson foundation.
In his locker at Yankee Stadium, he has a small statue commemorating Robinson's steal of home against the Yankees. He was safe at home on a similar play on Jackie Robinson Day several years ago, and had the jersey and a photo of the play framed along with one of Robinson's steal.
He also intended to wear his socks high, imitating the style of players in the Negro Leagues. All in all, he appreciates the day because he sees many reasons to spotlight one of the pivotal people in American history.
"For me, [this day] means a bunch of different things," he said. "It's a chance to play this great game I love. The number of minorities in the clubhouse and in clubhouses throughout the game. It's a great thing for baseball to continue to promote his legacy.
"I have kids come up and tell me their first book report was on Jackie Robinson. These are 6, 7, 8, 9 year olds. That generation is aware. My generation hasn't forgotten. My parents and grandparents haven't forgotten. To look around the field, and seeing everyone wearing No. 42, it gives people a chance to talk about Jackie Robinson."
Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.