Denzel Washington paid tribute to the late Jackie Robinson, the former Brooklyn Dodger who broke baseball’s color line, during the Major League Baseball All-Star Game at LA's Dodger Stadium Tuesday night. This year marks 75 years since Robinson joined the Dodgers in 1947 and became the first Black player in Major League history.
“When Jackie Robinson stepped onto a Major League Baseball field for the first time, armed with supreme talent and unshakable character and wearing a Dodgers uniform, he changed the game of baseball and so much more,” Washington told the sold-out crowd.
Denzel wore Jackie’s iconic number 42, which was retired for all Major League Baseball teams in 1997, becoming the first jersey in professional sports to receive that honor.
“Beyond the field, Jackie Robinson challenged us to become better versions of ourselves,” Washington continued. “Business leader, family man, activist, Hall of Famer. He said that life is not a spectator sport, and he lived that motto to the fullest. Number 42 blazed a trail that would light the way for people from every walk of life and every color and to this very day…that profound impact looms just as large today as it did 75 years ago.”
Robinson was a seven-time All-Star, Most Valuable Player, Rookie of the Year, batting champion and World Series champion. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1962 and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1984.
Tuesday also marked the 100th birthday of his widow, Rachel Robinson. Dodgers All-Star outfielder Mookie Betts led the crowd in wishing her a “Happy Birthday.”
The American League won 3-2 in the All-Star Game, and New York Yankee Giancarlo Stanton won the MVP Award.