Rajai reflects on Jackie's legacy, then homers

Rajai reflects on Jackie's legacy, then homers

PITTSBURGH -- Like everyone in the Majors, the Tigers were all wearing No. 42 on Wednesday to celebrate the anniversary of Jackie Robinson's Major League debut. It's an occasion that is not lost on them.

"We have to be reminded of Jackie, every single year," outfielder Rajai Davis said. "His number is retired, not on just one team, on 30 different teams. He's the only guy."

On Jackie Robinson Day, Davis was the only guy in PNC Park to cross home plate. His solo homer stood as the lone score in a 1-0 Tigers victory. It was the first time he played on Jackie Robinson Day since 2012. It was the first time he homered on Jackie Robinson Day in his career.

"I was talking to somebody [and said], 'Today would be a good day to get that first one,'" he said.

Davis' running catch

Though Davis also recognizes Moses Fleetwood Walker, who broke through baseball's color barrier in 1884 with the Toledo Blue Stockings of the American Association, he said that the challenges that Robinson encountered more than 60 years later -- with baseball's place in the social fabric of America so prominent -- were incredible.

The way Robinson handled those challenges was what stood out to David Price. Asked to use one word that stood out about Robinson, Price noted his smile.

"Hard as the times were, whenever he was playing, he always had a smile on his face," Price said. "That's what makes him special to me."

The Tigers ask local students to put Robinson's significance into words or art form each year as part of the Jackie Robinson Art, Essay and Poetry Contest. This year, middle and high school students throughout Michigan were encouraged to submit a work of art, poem or essay that captures the spirit of one or more of Robinson's Nine Values, including an essay on how those values helped them encounter a barrier in their own lives.

Though the Tigers were on the road for Jackie Robinson Day, they'll recognize contest winners in a pregame ceremony on the field at Comerica Park on Monday before they take on the Yankees in a 7:05 p.m. ET game.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.