By Anita Oh
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Phillies and Major League Baseball are celebrating Jackie Robinson Day. On this day in 1947, Robinson made his Major League debut as he broke baseball’s color barrier.
“Jackie Robinson is the reason that African-Americans can play baseball on the same field as Caucasians,” said Marvin Dozier.
On April 15th, 1947, Robinson broke the color barrier.
“It is important for me to be here because of what Jackie Robinson has done, not only to allow me to become an elected official, but also to my uncle. My uncle was actually able to be able to tryout for the Brooklyn Dodgers,” said Philadelphia City Councilman Derek Green.
That is the same team Robinson played for. His name, on that roster, tore through decades of baseball segregation.
Many in the community gathered at the Philadelphia Stars Memorial Park to honor Robinson. Philadelphia City Council leaders also spoke after passing a resolution last month, apologizing to Robinson for the racism he faced decades ago.
“Honoring our history means confronting our past,” said Councilwoman Helen Gym. “Part of that can start with an apology and an acknowledgement of the shame and hurt that it cost.”
Robinson’s story pioneered the way for players like Gary Matthews, a former member of the Phillies. “The Philadelphia Phillies were the last Major League team to have a black player on. Because of the way that he played, really paved the way for us to be able to come out there and play,” Matthews said.
“42,”…two digits on one jersey, are a reminder that beyond the home runs, beyond the Hall of Fame, Robinson’s lasting legacy is the day he first went to bat for the players that would come after him.