Dodgers plan Jackie Robinson statue at stadium
Jackie Robinson’s uniform number was on the back of every player at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday night and No. 42 was etched in the infield dirt.
Some day in the near future, there will be a more enduring tribute to the player who broke baseball’s color barrier 68 years ago.
As part of Civil Rights Game festivities that preceded a 5-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners, the Dodgers announced plans to erect a statue of Robinson on their stadium grounds.
The statue would be the first of its kind at Dodger Stadium.
“I’ve been waiting 20 years,” said Robinson’s widow, Rachel Robinson. “It’s the fulfillment of a dream.”
Dodgers President Stan Kasten offered few details about the project, saying he didn’t know when the statue would be made or where it would be placed.
But Kasten indicated it would be the first of a series.
“I would not be surprised if there are more to come,” Kasten said.
There will be no shortage of candidates.
As the project develops, there will almost certainly be calls from fans to construct statues of the likes of Vin Scully, Sandy Koufax, Tom Lasorda, Maury Wills and Fernando Valenzuela.
Presently, the most notable display for former players are the retired numbers on the facade of the suite level near the left-field foul pole. The numbers are also displayed in a plaza near the entrance at the top of the park.
With the exception of Jim Gilliam, the only players whose numbers are retired are Hall of Fame members. A former All-Star, Gilliam was a coach when he died shortly before 1978 World Series.
Valenzuela isn’t in the Hall of Fame, but his No. 34 is unofficially retired, as clubhouse manager Mitch Poole has steadfastly refused to issue it to another player.
If Wednesday offered the Dodgers an opportunity to reflect on their history, it also granted Adrian Gonzalez a chance to create some.
Gonzalez was two for five with a double and a run batted in in the Dodgers’ victory, which completed a three-game sweep.
Gonzalez has reached base two or more times in each of the first nine games of the season.
The last Dodgers players to do that had been Robinson in 1952, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Gonzalez’s sixth-inning double was 19th hit this season, which gave him more hits through the first nine games of a season than any player in club history.
The Dodgers went ahead, 3-0, in the first inning, which was highlighted by a two-run double by Scott Van Slyke.
Gonzalez increased the advantage to 4-0 when he singled in Jimmy Rollins in the second inning.
Center fielder Joc Pederson singled in Andre Ethier to extend the lead to 5-0.
Pederson also continued to make contributions on defense, making a diving catch in right-center field to take away a likely extra-base hit from Mike Zunino in the second inning.
The most bizarre play was made by the player to whom Manager Don Mattingly has compared Pederson: Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano.
Cano was on third base and Nelson Cruz on second when Logan Morrison drew a walk in the sixth inning. Evidently believing the bases were loaded, Cano casually walked toward home plate. He was thrown out at third base by catcher Yasmani Grandal.
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