It was 63 years ago that Jackie Robinson suited up for the Brooklyn Dodgers and broke baseball's color barrier. Major League Baseball honored Robinson yesterday by having all of its players suit up in Robinson's No. 42. But the Baltimore Orioles decided to pay their own unique tribute to the American legend.
"We were all getting dressed before the game, putting on our No. 42 jerseys, and it just didn't feel right. I knew I had to stop it," said Orioles outfielder Adam Jones. "As an African-American, as someone who looks up to Jackie Robinson, I knew he deserved better than having his number worn by the Baltimore Orioles."
Jones asked his teammates to change back into their regular jerseys out of respect for Robinson, and they eagerly complied.
"I am hitting .222," said Baltimore third baseman Garrett Atkins. "I hit .226 last year. It actually felt kind of racist to have Mr. Robinson's jersey number on, like: 'You may have accomplished all of this in your career and in your life, but you're still stuck on Garrett Atkins' back.' He deserves better than that."
With their regular jerseys back on, the Orioles went out and quickly showed they made the right decision, falling behind 5-0 to the A's on the way to a 6-2 loss their ninth in 10 games this season.
"If Jackie Robinson was up there in heaven watching this game, I'd like to think we made him happy," said Jones. "Although I truly hope someone like Jackie Robinson has better things to do in heaven than watch Baltimore Orioles games."
Commissioner Bud Selig said next year's Robinson tribute would be expanded to also ban the Nationals, Royals and Pirates from wearing No. 42.
"It would be great if they also didn't wear the Major League Baseball logo on their uniforms," he said. "But we'll take this stuff one at a time."
Baseball was rocked again today with the report that another beloved figure in the game has been linked to steroids this time the tainted legend being former Dodgers star Jackie Robinson.
The commissioner's office has yet to comment on the report, but Bud Selig is said to be taking this latest steroids news especially hard, as Robinson was a personal hero of his and the commissioner recently retired Robinson's No. 42 throughout all of baseball for his efforts in breaking the sport's color barrier.
But now it seems Robinson broke several ethical boundaries, as well. At a recent sports memorabilia auction, a bidder purchased several of the second baseman's old uniforms. When he took the items home, he found curious substances in the pants pockets.
"On a whim I had them tested," said the buyer, Mark Looper of Los Angeles. "And sure enough, they were steroids. Very rudimentary steroids."
It seems Robinson, desperate to prove racists and doubters wrong and show that he could succeed in major league baseball, used contacts he had in UCLA's chemistry department to help him develop an anabolic steroid a steroid which several former teammates who wish to remain anonymous say Robinson took throughout his career.
"He saw what he was doing as more than just one man playing baseball," said a former Dodgers teammate. "He was able to justify it pretty easily in his mind that way. It's that way with all cheaters."
"Jackie broke barriers," said another teammate. "He was the first Negro player. And he was the first steroids-using player. I think this actually boosts his legacy. If it wasn't for the Negroes and steroids, baseball would have gone under years ago."
But whether right or wrong, the sport now has perhaps its biggest scandal yet.
"Maybe this is a good thing," said current Dodgers manager Joe Torre. "It can help us move past this era. Jackie Robinson did steroids, A-Rod did steroids, Manny did steroids. Everyone did them. It's no big deal. Hell, I did them for a few years just to try to fit in with and relate to my players on the Yankees."