CHICAGO — Jason Heyward feels that the impact of Jackie Robinson Day is growing. And the veteran Cubs outfielder believes Robinson would be proud of the work being done by players in cities across the game.
Heyward cited the growing presence and impact of The Players Alliance, which aims to make baseball more accessible and create more opportunities and resources for Black communities. He also noted the increased conversation about inclusiveness and issues impacting the nation.
“It’s amazing that he was able to make the sacrifices he did,” Heyward said of Robinson, “maintaining his character, maintaining his love for the game, and not [putting] himself above that for his teammates, of course. But also for the numerous amount of people like myself, teammates that I have in this clubhouse, coaching staff, people that he didn’t know he was going to affect and how he was going to affect [them].
“He didn’t know the extent. He didn’t know that there would be a Players Alliance here today, unified and trying to rally troops behind good messages and positivity in our communities, and bringing that kind of awareness.
“So I think it’s super special that the things that he did over his time are still here today, without him even knowing that it was going to look like this.”
Heyward was among more than 100 Major League players of all races and backgrounds who pledged to donate their gameday salaries on Jackie Robinson Day to support The Players Alliance. The Cubs were off on Thursday, which was the 74th anniversary of Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier, but celebrated Robinson on Friday.
Last year, The Players Alliance raised more than $1 million on Jackie Robinson Day, helping fund initiatives such as the Players Pull Up tour over the offseason. That event provided supplies and resources to more than 20,000 families in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Heyward said this year’s donations will also be used to help programs on the ground in both Atlanta and Colorado during All-Star Week, among other projects.
“To me,” Heyward said, “this feels a little bit more different than any other Jackie Robinson Day I’ve been a part of, in a sense of just The Players Alliance bringing more people together.”
• Cubs manager David Ross noted that right-hander Kyle Hendricks continues to feel better and is tentatively scheduled to start on Sunday against Atlanta “if everything is trending right with him and his health.” Hendricks’ start was skipped Tuesday due to his feeling under the weather.
• Right-handers Dan Winkler and Brandon Workman (both on IL) were scheduled to throw “intense” bullpen sessions Friday, per Ross. If everything goes according to plan, both relievers could be activated as early as Sunday.
• Prior to Friday’s game, the Cubs activated utility man Matt Duffy from MLB’s COVID-19 related injured list. Utility man Ildemaro Vargas was returned to the alternate training site to clear a spot on the roster.
•.Ross indicated that the Cubs’ players have continued to test negative across the board for COVID-19.
Did You Know?
Per Cubs historian Ed Hartig, the absence of a Cubs-Braves series in 2020 ended the longest consecutive streak of seasons (146 years) played between two teams in U.S. professional sports history. The franchises had played each year from 1874-2019, including two seasons in the National Association.