Dodger Thoughts

Jon Weisman's outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball and life

Tag: Jackie Robinson (Page 2 of 3)

There’s never been a Dodger quite like Justin Turner

Los Angeles Dodgers vs Miami Marlins Wednesday, May 13, 2015 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles,California.  Photo by Jon SooHoo/©Los Angeles Dodgers,LLC 2015

Diamondbacks at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Chris Heisey, CF
Yasiel Puig, RF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Alex Guerrero, LF
Yasmani Grandal, C
Kiké Hernandez, SS
Alberto Callaspo, 3B
Carlos Frias, P

By Jon Weisman

Justin Turner’s knee is still stiff after taking a foul ball Monday, and Joc Pederson is “a bit worn down and beat up,” so they are resting tonight along with Andre Ethier against Arizona lefty Robbie Ray.

I can barely remember how I lived before Baseball Reference’s searchable Play Index came into my life, but a perfect example of the irrational pleasures it provides me came Monday night, when I got it into my head to figure out where Turner ranked offensively in history among Dodger third basemen.

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Jackie Robinson statue to grace Dodger Stadium

PB2By Jon Weisman

Jackie Robinson Day has been one filled with baseball royalty, fond reminisces and earnest discussion of challenges yet to be met.

But the lingering memory from April 15, 2015 will be that this is the day the Dodgers announced they would erect a statue to honor Jackie Robinson at Dodger Stadium.

Details about placement, timing or design are not yet available, but the commitment was a most welcome piece of news.

“It’s the fulfillment of a dream,” said Jackie’s widow, Rachel Robinson.

In making the announcement, Dodger president and CEO Stan Kasten said that the statue would be the first of a series at Dodger Stadium. The news just keeps getting better.

In case you missed it: Jackie Robinson Day edition

By Jon Weisman

Beginning at 2 p.m., is live-streaming today’s Civil Rights Roundtable, featuring Frank Robinson, Sharon Robinson, Billy Bean, Magic Johnson, labor leader and civil-rights activist Dolores Huerta, and UCLA Department of Urban Schooling doctoral student Brian Woodward.

Now, in addition to what was posted this morning on Dodger Insider, here are more links to Jackie Robinson Day coverage around the Internet:

  • A Jackie Robinson photo gallery, dating back to 1925 —
  • The time Jackie Robinson played shortstop for the Dodgers — Eric Stephen, True Blue L.A.
  • A re-creation Robinson’s debut as if he were writing on that day — Jay Jaffe,
  • A 1950 Jackie Robinson comic book — Ernest Reyes, Blue Heaven
  • Also from Blue Heaven: Jackie Robinson at the Apollo
  • Lopes appreciative of those who came before him — Lyle Spencer,
  • MLB’s only black manager pauses to remember Jackie Robinson’s impact — Tim Brown, Yahoo Sports
  • Jackie’s day a fitting backdrop for Civil Rights Game — Mark Newman,
  • Last but definitely not least, a very special first-person piece that Jimmy Rollins wrote about Jackie Robinson for Sports Illustrated appears below (click below to enlarge)

Rollins SI

A detailed account of Jackie Robinson’s first day in the Majors


By Jon Weisman

In 2007, I wrote the following piece for on what it was like for Jackie Robinson on April 15, 1947.

* * *

For most of us who didn’t live through Jackie Robinson’s first day in the major leagues, black and white images have embedded it in our memories. A stark snapshot of Robinson in his Brooklyn Dodgers cap, or frames of newsreel footage showing him running the bases.

According to Jonathan Eig’s new book, Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson’s First Season, when Robinson awoke early that day at Manhattan’s McAlpin Hotel, the sight before him, his wife, Rachel, and five-month-old son, Jack, Jr., was vivid and suggested anything but the historic day that was upon him.

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Next after Jackie: John Wright

John Wright with the Montreal Royals in March 1946 (National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)

John Wright with the Montreal Royals in March 1946 (National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)

John Wright second page imageBy Cary Osborne

Though John Wright, the second black player ever signed to a baseball contract, never made the Major Leagues, his signing further represented the vision of Branch Rickey and the progressive thinking of the Dodgers. And it was another step in the integration of baseball.

A right-handed pitcher with the Homestead Grays of the Negro Leagues, Wright signed with the Dodgers’ farm team, the Montreal Royals, almost three months to the day after Jackie Robinson on October 23, 1945.

The headline in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on January 29, 1946 (click image above right to enlarge) read: “Dodger Farm Signs 2d Negro Player.”

Wright, a native of New Orleans, played 10 seasons in the Negro Leagues. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle noted that Wright had faced big-league competition, including the Dodgers, while pitching for a Navy team prior to 1945.

Despite his experience and accomplishments, including a 2.55 ERA in 141 1/3 innings for Homestead in 1943 (according to Baseball Reference), Wright was seen by some as a player whose role was to keep Robinson company.

“John Wright, the pitcher who is to keep Jackie from growing homesick for his own race …” started a sentence in a March 2, 1946 Brooklyn Eagle article.

Wright was Robinson’s teammate in Montreal at the beginning of the 1946 season and faced the same discrimination as the legendary figure. Another article mentioned that some Montreal exhibition games had to be cancelled in April 1946 because some cities had regulations against “mixed athletic competition.”

Wright was in the Dodger organization just one year. In 1947, he was back in the Negro League pitching for the Grays.

Wright died in 1990, reportedly at the age of 73. Though he didn’t make the impact that his former teammate did, Wright has a place in baseball history.

Hazzard one of first to honor Jackie by wearing No. 42

Hazzard DSCN9847

UCLA BasketballBy Mark Langill

Today is a special day for Jalal Hazzard, manager of the Dodgers RBI youth program. His father, former UCLA basketball star Walt Hazzard, was born on April 15, 1942. The elder Hazzard passed away in 2011, but left a legacy which coincides with all Major League ballplayers wearing No. 42 on the anniversary of his Brooklyn Dodger debut at Ebbets Field in 1947.

“My dad idolized Jackie Robinson, they both went to UCLA,” Jalal said. “With the Bruins, he wore jersey 42 because of Jackie, and he continued wearing the number throughout most of his NBA career. The only time he didn’t wear 42 was when he played for the Golden State Warriors and Nate Thurmond had 42.”

Also: Over at, Lyle Spencer has a story about Robinson’s relationship and impact on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Dodger Stadium to host MLB Civil Rights Game on Jackie Robinson Day

[mlbvideo id=”24012679″ width=”550″ height=”308″ /]
By Jon Weisman

Not only is the April 15 Jackie Robinson Day celebration returning to Dodger Stadium this year after a one-season absence, but on that night, the Dodgers will host the Mariners in the ninth annual Civil Rights Game — the first time that the two events will be held together. The game will air on ESPN2.

MLB developed the Civil Rights Game “to pay tribute to the spirit of the civil rights movement and to honor those who embodied the struggle for equal rights for all Americans.” The Dodgers have played in the event once before, in 2012 at Atlanta.

“It is truly an ideal pairing to have the franchise of Jackie Robinson and the city of Los Angeles join our National Pastime in recognizing leaders of the past and present who have done so much for the benefit of our country,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement.  “Together with the Dodgers, Major League Baseball will proudly celebrate the civil rights movement, the courageous people like Jackie who contributed to it, and its many lessons that continue to resonate today.”

Said Dodger owner Earvin “Magic” Johnson: “We’re proud of the role the Dodgers have played in professional sports history as pioneers of social change since Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947 during the team’s days in Brooklyn. From Jackie to Sandy Koufax to Fernando Valenzuela to Hideo Nomo to Chan Ho Park to now Yasiel Puig and Hyun-Jin Ryu, the Dodgers have sought to lead the way and be a model of inclusion in sports and American society as a whole.”

This year marks the 70th anniversary of Robinson signing with the Dodgers.

“Thanks to Jackie Robinson and the Dodgers, baseball was at the forefront of the civil rights movement, integrating long before other parts of our nation caught up,” Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti said. “I’m proud that Los Angeles will play home to this game honoring the legacy of Jackie Robinson and all those who stand for freedom and equality.”

Together, MLB and the Dodgers will honor MLB Beacon Award recipients, conduct a youth baseball-focused event and host the “Baseball & Civil Rights Movement Roundtable Discussion, where “a group of prominent participants will discuss the pivotal role baseball played in the civil rights movement and the game’s continued presence as a social institution in American society.” will stream the panel.

Letter to Jackie, February 1947: ‘As I see it you are definitely going to get a chance’

WS to JR excerpt

Thanks to official MLB historian John Thorn for sharing this February 1947 letter from sportswriter and Jackie Robinson confidant Wendell Smith, addressing Robinson’s concerns for the coming year. An excerpt appears above, the full letter is below (click to enlarge) and at this link.

Also linked here: Branch Rickey’s January 1946 letter to Smith on the issue of making plans for Robinson to go to Spring Training in Florida.

— Jon Weisman

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Happy 96th birthday, Jackie Robinson


The footballiest Dodger games of all time

Jamey Wright celebrates a Dodger touchdown in their 17-0 victory over San Francisco in September. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Jamey Wright celebrates a Dodger touchdown in their 17-0 victory over San Francisco in September. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Jon Weisman

I’m not the world’s biggest football fan anymore, but it still amuses me when the Dodgers go up by a touchdown, so to speak. (Less so when they’re losing by a touchdown.)

With football playoffs in gear and the Dodgers offseason having one of its quieter weeks — though Jimmy Rollins will be making an appearance at Dodger Stadium at 4 p.m. today, airing live on SportsNet LA and — I thought it’d be fun to check out the Dodger games that looked the most like football scores. (The NFL and AAFC Brooklyn Dodgers not included.)

If one other person finds pleasure out of this, it will have been worth my while. (I’m counting on you, Eric Stephen.)

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Dribbling on behalf of Jackie Robinson

By Jon Weisman

I was in a Harlem Globetrotters rabbit hole last weekend when I stumbled upon this connection between famed Harlem Globetrotter Marques Haynes and famed Dodger Jackie Robinson.

… It’s 1946 and Haynes, a Sand Springs native, is a senior at Langston University. He’s playing in the championship game of a national tournament and he’s got a bone to pick with the opponent, Southern University.

Southern routed Sam Houston earlier in the tournament and was less than polite about it, going into showtime mode once the outcome had been decided.

“It didn’t sit too well with me,” Haynes said.

Haynes felt sorry not only for the humiliated players, but also for a Sam Houston assistant coach he had just met. The coach’s name — he gained fame in a different sport — was Jackie Robinson.

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Double dose of Jackie Robinson Day celebrations in 2015

Magic Johnson, Matt Kemp and Rachel Robinson at Dodger Stadium on April 15, 2013. (Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Magic Johnson, Matt Kemp and Rachel Robinson at Dodger Stadium on April 15, 2013.
(Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

A scheduling quirk put the Dodgers on the road for Jackie Robinson Day earlier this year, but next April 15, Dodger Stadium will be back in the familiar position of hosting the celebration of No. 42.

That night, the Dodgers will be taking on the Seattle Mariners, not to mention second baseman Robinson Cano, who was named after the Dodger legend.

In addition, Historic Dodgertown at Vero Beach will host the second annual Jackie Robinson Celebration Game, between the Florida State League’s St. Lucie Mets and Brevard County Manatees.

— Jon Weisman

Andre Ethier poised to become HBP champ

Andre Ethier tied the Los Angeles Dodger record for career HBPs with this plunking on June 13. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Andre Ethier tied the Los Angeles Dodger record for career HBPs with this June 13 plunking. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Dodgers at Pirates, 4:05 p.m.
Dee Gordon, 2B
Matt Kemp, RF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Scott Van Slyke, CF
Juan Uribe, 3B
Carl Crawford, LF
Miguel Rojas, SS
Drew Butera, C
Dan Haren, P

By Jon Weisman

This week seems like as good as any to post a list of the Dodgers’ all-time leaders in hit by pitches. One list features the expected — the other, perhaps, a surprise.

The Plunkers
154 Don Drysdale
82 Henry McIntire
79 Jeff Pfeffer
74 Chan Ho Park
73 Nap Rucker
70 Dazzy Vance
65 Orel Hershiser
62 Don Sutton
56 Burleigh Grimes
53 Ramon Martinez
49 Charlie Hough
45 Oscar Jones
43 Chad Billingsley
40 Darren Dreifort
38 Jeff Weaver

Drysdale’s spot on the chart might be the least surprising piece of trivia you’ll see for some time, but even Drysdale would have to tip his hat to McIntire, who hit a better nearly every other game for Brooklyn (179 games in all). And Park amassed his total in even fewer innings than McIntire.

The Plunkees
73 Zack Wheat
72 Jackie Robinson
52 Andre Ethier
52 Alex Cora
47 Carl Furillo
43 Ron Cey
41 Willie Davis
39 Whitey Alperman
37 Lou Johnson
37 Jake Daubert
36 Bill Russell
35 Mark Grudzielanek

Yep, that’s Andre Ethier quietly bruising his way up the list — with his next HBP, he’ll become the franchise’s all-time leader in Los Angeles. Ethier tied Cora when Chase Anderson nailed him on June 13, immediately after a Matt Kemp home run. Ethier earned 25 percent of his total in one season — 2009, while Cora set the Los Angeles single-season record with 18 in 2004.

Wheat got his Dodger-leading total in 18 seasons; Robinson came within one despite playing only 10 years in Brooklyn. Cora, somewhat amazingly, averaged an HBP every 13.1 games, while Sweet Lou was soured every 10.5 games as a Dodger.

* * *

Dodger team historian Mark Langill is a participant in this ESPN 30 for 30 documentary short, “The High Five.” It’s a story that most Dodger fans know very well, but it never hurts to revisit.

Memories: 42 years since 42


Today is the 42nd anniversary of the Dodgers retiring No. 42 (in addition to Nos. 32 and 39), on June 4, 1972.

Here’s to Jackie, Roy and Sandy.

— Jon Weisman

Video: ‘Dodgers Roadshow’ highlights rare goodies

Dodgers Roadshow

By Jon Weisman

The centerpiece of the May issue of Dodger Insider magazine is our Dodgers Roadshow (excerpted above, click to enlarge). Team historian Mark Langill discussed the history behind 20 pieces of Dodger memorabilia, few if any of which you’ve ever seen before.

In the videos that follow, Langill devotes even more time to these strange and wonderful artifacts. Enjoy!

[mlbvideo id=”33008893″ width=”550″ height=”308″ /]

[mlbvideo id=”33008913″ width=”550″ height=”308″ /]

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