Padres beat the LA Dodgers as the league remembers the player who broke the colour barrier in the MLB.
Squaring off for the first time since their brawl, Los Angeles and San Diego were able to set aside any differences and commemorate the 66th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier.
San Diego’s Eric Stults pitched six solid innings and crushed a three-run homer in a 6-3 win a week after a wild melee between the two clubs left Dodger pitcher Zack Greinke with a broken left collarbone.
But the focus at Dodger Stadium was on the baseball Monday and the anniversary of Los Angeles native Robinson becoming the first African American to play in Major League Baseball in the modern era.
Hollywood legend Harrison Ford threw out the first pitch and players on both teams wore Robinson’s No. 42.
The on-field ceremony included Robinson’s widow, Rachel, his daughter, Sharon, and son, David, as well as other Major League Baseball and Dodgers dignitaries.
Civil rights pioneer Robinson grew up in nearby Pasadena, California where he attended Pasadena City College before transferring to Los Angeles-based UCLA.
The 70-year-old Ford was also on hand to celebrate the legacy of Robinson. Ford portrays Brooklyn Dodgers executive Branch Rickey in the movie ’42’, which chronicles the 1947 breaking of baseball’s color barrier by Robinson. The film opened in American theaters on Friday.
“Jackie Robinson running onto Ebbets Field is not only the most important and powerful moment in baseball history, but it also changed the course of American history,” Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement earlier.
“Jackie’s courage and perseverance made it possible for African Americans and players of all races and ethnicities to compete on the same field.”
Robinson was one of American baseball’s most dynamic players for a decade. The second baseman played in six World Series tournaments and led the Dodgers to the 1955 league championship.
He was chosen for six straight All-Star Games, beginning in 1949, and was named the inaugural MLB Rookie of the Year award winner in 1947.
Dodgers slugger Matt Kemp said Robinson showed great diplomacy when dealing with racial abuse in America during the 1940s.
“He knew how to turn the other cheek. He knew how to walk away from situations,” Kemp said.
Law enforcement officials also stepped up security inside and around Dodger Stadium Monday following the deadly explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon that left at least three people dead.
There was also a moment of silence for the Boston victims before the game started.
Monday’s Robinson ceremony failed to inspire the Dodgers, who lost for the third time in four games despite getting three hits, an RBI and a run scored from Carl Crawford.
Los Angeles starting pitcher Chad Billingsley was charged with three runs on seven hits and two walks over six innings.
“I thought Billingsley did a good job battling and keeping himself in the game,” said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. “Our problem is scoring runs. We get plenty of hits but just haven’t been effective once get guys on the bases.”
Stults did it all, slugging an unlikely homer and lasting six innings on the mound. He gave up nine hits and allowed just three runs for San Diego who snapped a five-game losing streak.