Dye among many to honor Robinson
Five White Sox don the legendary No. 42 on special day
CLEVELAND -- It would be hard to find an individual associated with the game of baseball who has a greater appreciation for Roberto Clemente than Ozzie Guillen. The White Sox manager even has a special Roberto Clemente room in his Venezuelan home, with memorabilia honoring the Latino legend.
But even with Guillen's knowledge and respect for the late Clemente, he still knows the player who made it possible for all individuals of color and even individuals from outside the United States to earn a living playing baseball.
That heroic legend was honored Sunday by players and fans from all racial backgrounds and nationalities through Jackie Robinson Day. White Sox right fielder Jermaine Dye, Jim Thome, Alex Cintron, first-base coach Harold Baines and third-base coach Razor Shines all donned jersey No. 42 in celebration of the 60-year anniversary of Robinson's first game.
After Cleveland's 2-1 victory over the White Sox at Jacobs Field, Guillen spoke of Sunday's celebration and the impact Robinson has on the game today.
"A lot of people talk about Roberto Clemente opening the door for us, but I think the man who did it was Jackie," Guillen said. "Roberto was part of the thing thanks to Jackie. We have a lot of Latinos making a lot of money, and we have to appreciate what [Robinson] did.
"Today, that was awesome, and it's an honor to be part of it. This man, he [did] a lot for baseball. Those guys wore those uniforms with pride.
"When Jackie came up, he went through a lot of difficulties to make baseball what it is now," Guillen added.
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 number 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.
The impact of the day hit Dye as he watched the tribute to Robinson and highlights of Robinson's legendary ability on the Jacobs Field scoreboard before the game. In Dye's mind, it was his way of thanking Robinson for giving him a chance to play Major League Baseball.
Although the special game-worn No. 42 jerseys will be auctioned off for charity, Dye plans to get a replica and have it framed to hang in his house. Dye said this particular jersey will mean more to him than any other, aside from the one he wore during the 2005 World Series, a championship in which Dye was honored with the series Most Valuable Player Award.
"I'll admire it for a long time," said Dye of the No. 42 jersey. "It's cool to honor a man of his stature, to go out and put on a uniform with that number for a guy who paved the way for us. I was honored to be able to wear his number today."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.