Nationals, Phillies pay homage to Robinson

Nationals, Phillies pay homage to Robinson

WASHINGTON -- Some wear custom cleats, batting gloves and sleeves. They all don No. 42 jerseys. All across Major League Baseball, they celebrated Jackie Robinson Day on Saturday, on the 70th anniversary of his debut for the Brooklyn Dodgers that broke baseball's color barrier.

The Nationals combined this day with their annual Black Heritage Day event where they also honor African-Americans in the D.C. community. Prior to Saturday's game against the Phillies, they held a pregame ceremony honoring the grandsons of Katherine Johnson, the NASA physicist and mathematician recently highlighted in the film "Hidden Figures"; George H. Lambert Jr., the president and CEO of the Greater Washington Urban League; while also recognizing top finalists from the 35th annual Washington Informer Spelling Bee and Jackie Robinson Foundation scholars.

For Nationals manager Dusty Baker, one of only two African-American managers in the Majors, Saturday is not much different. He thinks about Robinson often, has a wall dedicated to him in the weight room in his home and made sure his son, Darren, was educated about the Hall of Famer.

"Every day is Jackie Robinson Day to me," Baker said. "If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be in baseball. I wouldn't be working as a player, and I wouldn't have this job."

The Nationals and Phillies each have one African-American player on their roster: Nats outfielder Michael Taylor and Phillies outfielder Howie Kendrick.

Taylor laced up a pair of custom shoes from Adidas for batting practice and said he also had special cleats, an arm sleeve and batting gloves. Kendrick posted a message to his Instagram account saying, "Thank You Jackie."

In the clubhouse, players from both sides wore a blue shirt with the No. 42 on the front. Baker donned a No. 42 on his trademark wristbands. Bryce Harper posted a pair of custom Jackie Robinson cleats on his Instagram account, complete with Robinson's face, a picture of him sliding into home plate and his career stats.

Harper's Jackie Robinson cleats

"I think that it's a great gesture to remember Jackie Robinson forever," Baker said.

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.