Mookie Betts had already accomplished several firsts with the Los Angeles Dodgers this season –game, hit, RBI, home run, etc. — prior to the weekend. But Friday’s series opener against the Texas Rangers took on more meaning as MLB celebrated Jackie Robinson Day.
Traditionally held every April 15, it was scheduled for last Friday to commemorate the anniversary of the March on Washington in 1963, which the Robinson family attended. Aug. 28 also is the date when then Brooklyn Dodgers executive Branch Rickey met with Robinson in 1945.
The Dodgers and Rangers each wore No. 42 throughout the entire series. “Definitely super special,” Betts said of his first Jackie Robinson Day with the Dodgers franchise. “Especially with everything that’s kind of going on now.
“It means so much just to be able to play the game. Everything that he did, obviously huge things, I’ll always remember this Jackie Robinson Day for sure.”
The three games at Globe Life Field marked the end of an emotional week for Betts. He was prepared to boycott a game against the San Francisco Giants and only cheer on teammates from the dugout.
Instead, the Dodgers and Giants jointly agreed to not play. Several other MLB teams also followed in the footsteps of the Milwaukee Bucks setting a precedent in the NBA.
“Obviously it’s tiring, but you have to be able to separate the two,” Betts said of maintaining focus on the field and in fighting for equality and an end to social injustice. “I know it’s kind of tough to do, but it’s what you have to do. It’s what we signed up for.
“We have to handle those things off the field and while we’re playing we have to handle what’s on the field. I think we’ve done a great job in separating the two.”
Members of the Players Alliance, comprised of more than 100 Black MLB players, committed to donating their game salary from last Thursday and Friday to “combat racial equality and aid the Black families and communities deeply affected in the wake of recent events.”
Betts confirmed he was part of those in the Players Alliance who committed to doing as much, and also indicated he is organizing more action. The details of which weren’t prepared to be revealed.
“You’ve got to wait a little bit,” Betts said. “Once I get all my ducks in a row, I’ll let everyone know.”
Relating to LeBron James’ call for action
While players and teams boycotting was considered a watershed moment in its own right, L.A. Lakers superstar LeBron James quickly shifted the focus to now implementing a plan of action. It’s a sentiment Betts agreed with.
“A plan is kind of how everything is done. You don’t want to make emotional decisions, you don’t want to just do things without knowledge, so that’s what the plan is for,” he said.
“I think that’s kind of what he means. I don’t want to speak for him, but I know that’s what I mean when I think of a plan. Knowing everything that you want to do and just putting everything in motion.”
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