"One person went through a lot of things to allow all of us to play baseball," Heyward said. "When I say all of us, I mean everybody. African-Americans, of course, but just to open up the door to integration for everyone."
Before the game, the Cubs presented community members Robert McGee and Luis Puig Jr. with the Jackie Robinson Business Award. After the game, manager Joe Maddon started his postgame news conference by reading a statement about the Jackie Robinson Foundation, which gives scholarships and support to students throughout the country.
Friday was the 69th anniversary of Robinson's Major League debut. In 93 games at Wrigley Field, Robinson was a career .295 hitter, with 22 doubles, seven triples, five home runs and 43 RBIs.
Heyward said Jackie Robinson Day fills him with gratitude every year. Wearing cleats in his honor is the least he can do.
"It's awesome," Heyward said of Jackie Robinson Day. "Somebody made an impact on and off the field, and that goes a long way. … How do you handle failure? That's a big part of our game. But how do you handle failure and hatred and all types of things?
"It's just awesome, all the way around."
Cody Stavenhagen is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.