Banister, players pay homage to Robinson

Banister, players pay homage to Robinson

ARLINGTON -- Like all of Major League Baseball on Friday, the Rangers commemorated Jackie Robinson Day with events designed to serve as a show of respect for the contributions of the American baseball legend.

The history gave players and management pause.

"I think [players] need to really educate themselves on why we have this day," manager Jeff Banister said before the game against the Orioles. "Also understand Jackie Robinson not only led us in the era he played, but he's still leading us in an era we still need to be led."

Robinson broke baseball's color barrier on April 15, 1947. All uniformed personnel across the Majors wore Robinson's No. 42 on Friday. Major League Baseball retired the number in 1997.

Before the game the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation presented checks to the Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce and Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce and the United Negro College Fund.

Tameka Selders, a Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholarship alumnus who is now a mentor teacher at St. Phillip's School, threw out the honorary first pitch. Nia Thompkins, a 12-year-old singer and actor from NIA Kids Center for the Performing Arts in nearby Desoto, sang the national anthem.

In the clubhouse before the game, outfielder Delino DeShields was showing off the pair of Jackie Robinson cleats he planned to wear in Friday's game.

Inscribed on the sock liner are two Robinson quotes: "Above anything else, I hate to lose" and "A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives."

"I don't think I could've gone through what he went through," said the Rangers' Prince Fielder, adding that he was grateful that Robinson paved the way for him and the thousands of others in baseball, including his father, former big league Cecil Fielder.

"I look at it a little bit different," Banister said, "in that here's a human being with the passion and belief system, the grit, resilience and persistence, but believed in himself so much that he was willing to put himself in a position and have to endure so many things that no one should have to endure. For us not to honor that would be an absolute travesty."

Worth noting

• Banister was still not sure about next week's rotation with an off-day on Monday, waiting to consult with Cole Hamels after the lefty fully decompressed after Thursday's start. One option is to push each starter back for an extra day of rest, though Hamels' preference is to stay on his regular turn, which would be Tuesday.

Josh Hamilton was back with the team to be re-evaluated by team officials, trainers and doctors after a week in Arizona for extended spring training while continuing to rehabilitate his injured left knee. His next step remains unclear.

• In addition to Jackie Robinson Day pregame activities, new TCU basketball coach Jamie Dixon threw out the ceremonial first pitch as part of University Days, a ballpark promotion for schools in the Big 12 and around the area.

John Henry is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.