By David Krueger Herald Writer
Jackie Robinson Day
In honor of the 65th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s first game as a Brooklyn Dodger, all of the players and coaches on baseball’s 30 teams wore Robinson’s No. 42 during Sunday’s games. Robinson famously broke baseball’s color barrier on April 15, 1947 at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn.
In 1997, Ken Griffey Jr. asked Major League Baseball if he could wear Robinson’s number for the 50th anniversary of Robinson’s debut, even though the number had been retired throughout baseball. Griffey was given permission, and ten years later, again was granted permission to wear No. 42. The league liked Griffey’s idea and ultimately extended the offer to all major league teams.
Mariners second baseman Dustin Ackley, starting his first full season in the majors, took part in his very first Jackie Robinson Day.
“I’ve always seen it the past years, I’ve always noticed the day everybody wears No. 42,” Ackley said. “It’s definitely a cool thing. It’s cool to have everybody doing that for a great cause.”
National Basketball Association Hall of Famer Bill Russell threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Sunday’s game.
Mariners get day off
Today will be Seattle’s second day off since its season re-opened at Oakland on April 2, and first day off in Seattle. Several players, such as Ackley and first baseman Justin Smoak, are taking the time to finish settling in to their respective residences.
“It’ll be nice to have (an off day), being back here for the first time,” Smoak said. “It’ll be good to try to get settled in and everything and get ready for the rest of the year.”
With 11 games in the book, Ackley said that — thanks to the break in between the first two games in Japan and the start of the regular season — there’s been time for the Mariners to rest up.
“I don’t think anyone’s at the point where they’re tired yet,” Ackley said.
They may not be tired, but Mariners’ manager Eric Wedge is betting they’re happy.
“I think everybody’s excited,” Wedge said. “It’s been a long stretch. These guys still haven’t had a chance to really get settled in, obviously getting back late Thursday and then running through this weekend. It’s (the off day) much needed.”
The Mariners lead the majors in number of games played. Sunday’s game was the 11th time Seattle has taken the field this year, more than any other team in baseball. Several teams have played ten games, including Oakland, the Mariners opponent in its opening series in Japan.
After opening the season with a slate of games against teams from the AL West, the Mariners will play outside their division for the first time this season when the Cleveland Indians come to town for a three-game series that starts on Tuesday.
The Indians are currently in third place in the AL Central with a record of 4-4 after a 13-7 win over Kansas City on Sunday finalized a three-game sweep of the Royals.
“It’ll be good to play somebody else here coming up. … I feel like we’ve played (Oakland) every game so far,” Smoak said.
Seattle starting pitchers Felix Hernandez, Hector Noesi and Blake Beavan have all pitched at least seven innings in the Mariners’ first three games at Safeco Field this season. Noesi and Beavan earned wins. … Catcher Jesus Montero saw his league-leading eight-game hitting streak snapped Sunday afternoon with an 0-for-4 day. During the streak he was batting .370 (10-for-27). … Sunday afternoon’s game had an announced attendance of 19,650.