On Wednesday, Major League Baseball celebrates the 74th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier. Every player will take the field wearing his iconic No. 42 to honor the legacy of both a tremendous player and civil rights icon, who devoted his life after retirement to the movement for equal rights.
With Robinson sacrificing so much for so many, and with bigotry and racism still a pressing issue across the country, Robinson’s legacy cannot be overstated and he continues to be an inspiration today.
So, as baseball honors Robinson, 14 players also took a moment to reflect on his impact and his importance in their lives by writing a letter to the all-time great. Their notes, typed out and in images shared on MLB’s social channels, are below:
Dear Mr. Robinson,
As a young boy I heard your name and stories of your courage. At first, I didn’t truly understand the magnitude of what you had truly been through, and strength that you had displayed. But as I grow older and more of your story has been revealed I just want to say THANK YOU! Thank you for being as strong as you are, thank you for being a pioneer, and most of all thank you for being you.
I don’t know if you knew how many little Black boys you would have helped for generations to come. But because of you I get to put on this uniform and play the game that we both loved with a smile on my face. Without your sacrifice I wouldn’t be where I am today, I will forever be grateful for you and everything you’ve done. It is my hope that every day I put this uniform on I do everything I can to make you smile and inspire others the same way you inspire me. To simply say it, Thank you Mr. Robinson, you will forever be my hero!
Jackie Robinson is more than one of my favorite players, he’s one of my heroes. I look back at his life and see all of the adversity and hardships he dealt with on and off the field — for him to withstand all of the hate and to be able to perform at a Hall of Fame level day in and day out is truly astonishing. I try my best to honor God, Jackie Robinson, and all of those who paved the way for me to get to this point every day when I wake up.
Thank you, Jackie, for helping this kid live out his dream!
We have an opportunity to play baseball because of all the hate Jackie went through to play this game. For that I am forever grateful and for that I will never take this game for granted knowing how lucky that I am to be out there.
Wearing 42 today is a step in the right direction. It signifies equality and it signifies meaning as a Black man in this game being able to live the childhood dream. To see where we came from and how far we’ve come since, it’s truly a blessing.
Jackie, thank you. Thank you for carrying yourself with the dignity that was not returned to you. Thank you for persisting against all odds and all prejudice. Thank you for reminding the world that sports can mean more than wins and losses. Thank you for carrying on the work of the generations before you, and empowering every generation of players to come. Baseball, America, and the world are better because of your greatness. Thank you, Jackie.
I’ll forever be grateful for what you did for the game of baseball and civil rights as a whole. You took the first steps in making this game more than “America’s pastime.” It’s a worldly game, a game for people of all races and ethnicities because of you and your sacrifices.
Man, what has Jackie Robinson meant to me … First off, without him I probably wouldn’t even be born — he broke barriers that were bigger than baseball. My parents are biracial.
Secondly, the courage … the courage he had to take all the stuff on by himself. I know I couldn’t do what he did. He got so much hate towards him for no reason … to want to play baseball. Shows what kind of world we live in.
That man changed the course of history BY HIMSELF. So many people couldn’t bear to take on even a piece of what he did. I’m so thankful for 42 for having the bravery and guts to take on white America and change the world.
Thank you, Mr. Robinson, for having the courage and humility to do something that still has an impact on the game of baseball and the world today. Without you, doing what I love and fulfilling lifelong dreams would not be possible. You are a true hero and your name will ring on forever! Thank you 42!
Jackie Robinson made it possible for me to play baseball for a living every day, and for that I am grateful. Each swing, each hit, each steal, and each catch is because of him. His legacy is one that will never be touched, and I am grateful I get to continue on the road he paved for me and others like me.
Thank you for doing it your way and for being yourself along the journey. You paved the way for Black athletes like myself, and seeing what you went through has inspired me to keep going, no matter what obstacles are in my way.
What Jackie Robinson means to me … He is an inspiration whose life and works transcended far past just baseball. His sacrifices have made this world a better place.
Jackie Robinson is one of the first people I think of when I think of individuals who truly risked everything for the benefit of others. The manner in which he overcame the challenges and bigotry he faced, on and off the field, changed the whole world for the better, and his enormous impact continues to be felt to this day.
I just want to say thank you so much for everything that you’ve done for the sport, for people like me, people like you, and for people around the world that would have had a very tough time trying to do what we’re doing today in any sport, so we salute you. I want to say that I wouldn’t be playing this game without you and that you’re the spirit that withholds me within baseball. So thank you.