SAN DIEGO - As Colorado Rockies closer, LaTroy Hawkins forced San Diego Padres catcher Nick Hundley into a game-ending double play, under the Tuesday night lights of Petco Park, it gave the Rockies a 3-2 win and it also brought to an end to one of baseball’s most coveted days.
Major League Baseball celebrated the 67th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier in the 20th century by having each player wear Robinson’s No. 42 jersey. On April 15, 1947, Robinson played his first game for the Brooklyn Dodgers.
“Jackie Robinson is an American icon whose accomplishments and leadership continue to inspire us in baseball and our society at large," MLB commissioner Bud Selig told The Los Angeles Times.
Honoring Robinson annually also brings a spotlight to a sobering issue to the game he played. According to the USA Today, only 7.8 percent of African-Americans play baseball in the majors. That’s the lowest percentage it’s been since 1958.
The Rockies have one African-American player -- Hawkins. He’s one of 67 Black baseball players currently in the league.
In an effort to increase interest and participation in baseball, The Majors began the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) Program in 1989. There are currently several RBI programs in Denver, Aurora and Commerce City. More than 200,000 kids participate nationwide.
The RBI program helps teams with equipment, funding for umpire fees and most of the other costs associated with playing the game of baseball.