Local baseball players honor the legacy of Jackie Robinson
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Seventy-five years ago, Jackie Robinson made his Major League Baseball debut for the Brooklyn Dodgers breaking the color barrier, sparking change for the game of baseball forever.
We spoke to local players and coaches about how Robinson’s legacy impacts them in Augusta.
“I think a lot of people don’t recognize the hardships he went through, with a lot of anxiety, a lot of depression, the death threats, a lot of things day in and day out just to come out here and play the game that he loved and enjoyed,” said David Barnes, Greenbrier, head baseball coach.
April 15, 1947. A day 75 years in the past, but a legacy that transcends any ballpark.
“He paved that way, broke that color barrier, and inspired people to do something whether it’s in sports or life,” he said.
Robinson gave a future and a reality for what was a dream for so many.
Theron Powell, Augusta University baseball senior, outfielder said: “He’s a hero to me because he paved the way for black athletes to play the game of baseball. I’ve been playing this game since I was 18 years old. It’s been a real blessing to have him to look up to.”
Three years later, 42 made his way to Augusta, playing in front of a packed house at old Jennings Stadium. Since gone, but his footprint is embedded in the garden city.
The MLB retired Robinson’s number 42 in 1997. To remember Jackie Robinson Day, all MLB players, managers, and umpires all wear number 42.
Damien Williams, pitcher said: “I was able to get the chance because, maybe if it wasn’t for him, baseball would still be how it was back in the day.”
Today, the MLB has one of the smallest percentages of black players since its integration in 1959.
For local players, today is a reminder that his work isn’t over.
Powell said: “It’s a little bit of both, financial, and a lack of the word getting out of black athletes learning the game of baseball, going to camps, getting the opportunity to go to camps, playing for a travel team. If we open it up to the black community, it would come to help them play this beautiful game.”
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