BALTIMORE — On the 75th anniversary of the day Jackie Robinson made his big league debut, becoming the first Black player to play in the big leagues, Aaron Boone wasn’t looking backwards. The Yankees manager was looking ahead and the impact that these remembrances and the efforts of the Players Alliance will have on the game going forward.
“I think it’s awesome. I think what the Players Alliance has done over the last couple of years … they’ve been really impactful in a short amount of time,” Boone said before Friday night’s series opener at Camden Yards. “And I feel like they’re gonna continue to do that. As we know, the last 20 years or so we’ve seen the amount of Black players go down, as Latin players have come into major league baseball, but I really believe they’re starting to turn that around. And I think we’re going to start to see more and more Black kids get back into baseball, which is only going to serve us well and be great for our sport moving forward. I know in the draft coming up, a lot of the top picks are going to be Black players. Hopefully, we start to see more and more kids getting into this great game and impacting this great game, like they have throughout our history.”
Members of the Players Alliance, including Yankees center fielder Aaron Hicks, were donating their game checks toward programs to increase diversity in the game. That’s part of the legacy that Robinson has left in the sport. It was a day that Boone worried might get lost in the labor unrest this winter.
“It’s a really special day on the calendar. I think you realize, maybe not at the time, but during the lockout you’re thinking like, one of the things we thought was that we can’t have the spill into Jackie Robinson day,” Boone said. “He’s such a monumental figure in our history. To see the amount of players white, Black, Latino, Asian, really look forward to this day, and all that it means. And I think it’s a point of pride for Major League Baseball to do that. This day belongs to the sport, and just what an influence he had in our history. It’s one that you feel a privilege to be a part of. And to get to where number 42 Today is something that you cherish. And you look forward to.”
This year not only did every player and on-field staff member wear No. 42 in Robinson’s honor, the numbers were in Dodger Blue.
Aaron Judge had a planned night off on Friday as part of Boone’s plan to proactively rest guys this season in hopes of preventing fatigue and injuries.
“Just a day. Kind of targeted this one really, since Opening Day, and then add on to that the fact that we had the delay we did last night and probably got to the hotel around 3:40,” Boone said. “He was still working on me even about an hour ago wanting to get in there. But I just feel like today was a good day to have him off as we try and be smart, especially through this first 10.”
With Judge out, Giancarlo Stanton played right field Friday night.
OUT OF LEFT FIELD
Camden Yards’ left field had always been a friendly place for Yankees hitters. That may be why the Orioles decided to move it this offseason. The new wall is 26.5 feet farther back from home plate and the wall was raised from 7 feet, 4 inches to 13 feet. The wall now slopes in from the left-field line and then just straight back out on a sharp, almost 90-degree, angle where the bullpens begin.
“It’s just a little bit odd,” Boone said. “We’ve dealt with odd things. Houston had the hill in the outfield for a while there by design, so it’s definitely unique. I’m not quite sure how I feel about it yet in such an obviously great ballpark.”
Source: Berkshire mont