Jackie's legacy held dear by Wakamatsu

Jackie's legacy held dear by Wakamatsu

SEATTLE -- The Major League schedule makers dictated that the Mariners had to celebrate Jackie Robinson Day on April 16 instead of the annual April 15 anniversary of the baseball legend's ground-breaking first big league game in 1947, but the sentiment was just as strong a day later throughout Safeco Field.

As was the case with all the players, coaches and umpires around the Majors on Thursday, every Mariner and Detroit Tiger wore Robinson's No. 42 on their uniforms on Friday.

For Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu, the first skipper of Asian-American heritage in Major League history, the day struck a particularly harmonious chord.

"It means a lot to me," Wakamatsu said. "I think it's a special day that we take this time to honor it. It paved the way for me to get this opportunity."

Wakamatsu also said players can learn a lot about perspective when they learn about the struggle of Robinson and other players of color throughout history.

"There's players today that think they've had struggles," Wakamatsu said, "and then you go back and you think about the racism and the things Jackie had to endure, and just to prove how strong mentally he was ... it's phenomenal.

"As a manager, when guys are struggling and worrying about things, it's easy to bring up a guy like Jackie and go, 'You have no idea.'"