Jackie Robinson’s family tosses first pitch as Dodgers take Game 1 of World Series
Robinson’s widow, daughter and son return to Dodger Stadium on 45th anniversary of his death
At the beginning of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ season, the team hosted Jackie Robinson’s family for the unveiling of his statue on April 15, the 70th anniversary of Robinson breaking the color barrier in major league baseball.
On Tuesday night, Robinson’s widow, Rachel; daughter, Sharon; and son David returned to Dodger Stadium on the 45th anniversary of Robinson’s death to throw out the first pitch for Game 1 of the World Series.
The Dodgers, in their first World Series since 1988, defeated the Houston Astros 3-1.
Fans, players and coaches applauded as the Robinsons threw out their respective first pitches. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts went out to greet David and Sharon Robinson and walked over to Rachel Robinson, who was seated in a cart, to give her a kiss and a hug.
“When you see Rachel coming up, and Sharon and David, knowing my relationship with them and knowing them when I was a player here, very wide-eyed, and still just to see Mrs. Robinson with just such class,” Roberts said. “And she’s just timeless. And to know some of the backstory, and to be intimate with them is really an honor, and it’s one of the huge, huge perks that I’ve had in my life as far as being a Dodger and being a part of their family, in a sense.
“For them to come back and make the trek, I think that the fans were very excited about that. I think that she was really excited. So for me it’s very humbling to be able to call them friends.”
The gravity of that moment also left an impression on Astros outfielder Cameron Maybin, who tweeted about Robinson’s impact on him and others who have played and will play the game.
— Cameron Maybin (@CameronMaybin) October 24, 2017
The Robinson family’s first pitches also came 70 years after Robinson played in the 1947 World Series with his Brooklyn Dodgers teammates against the New York Yankees.
Back then, Rachel Robinson periodically wrote articles for People’s Voice, a New York City-based black newspaper, discussing Robinson’s journey during his rookie season, including his first World Series action.
“It’s set, we’re going to win it,” she told Henry La Cossitt during his The Editor’s Diary broadcast. “I was going over in my mind last season at Montreal. Jackie and I used to sit and daydream and speculate about the big leagues. But we never dreamed anything would happen like what happened at Ebbets Field yesterday [when the Dodgers beat the Yankees, 3-2, in Game 4].” The Yankees went on to win the series in seven games.
In that same interview, Rachel Robinson was asked to look ahead to what she and Jackie Robinson would do once he decided to retire, and she said they were planning to set up their own organization devoted to helping underprivileged children.
Just months after Robinson’s death on Oct. 24, 1972, Rachel started the Jackie Robinson Foundation, which provides scholarships to children of color in need.
“Mom, David and I were incredibly honored to throw out the ceremonial first pitch,” Sharon Robinson said Tuesday. “We are thrilled that our team is in the series. We want to thank the fans for such a warm welcome. It is an emotional night for us given the anniversary of Dad’s passing. So proud of Mom!”
And at 95, Rachel Robinson looked just as calm when she delivered that first pitch as she was watching the game with Robinson’s mother, Mallie Robinson, and her mother, Zellee Isum, in 1947.
“I don’t have time to get nervous,” she declared to the Baltimore Afro-American that year. “I keep everybody else calm.”
Calm would certainly describe the Dodgers team that took the opening game of the World Series against the Astros. Chris Taylor sent the first pitch that Houston’s Dallas Keuchel threw to him 447 feet into the left-field stands for a leadoff home run.
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw struck out 11 batters in seven innings. He allowed three hits and gave up a solo homer to Alex Bregman in the fourth inning. Two innings later, Los Angeles got the deciding run after Taylor drew a two-out walk and Justin Turner took Keuchel deep to left field for a home run.