Major League Baseball
C.C. Sabathia honors Jackie Robinson's legacy in new FOX Sports video essay
Major League Baseball

C.C. Sabathia honors Jackie Robinson's legacy in new FOX Sports video essay

Published Apr. 15, 2024 4:24 p.m. ET

What does it mean to truly change the world? To turn the impossible into the possible? To open minds, open hearts and open paths?

C.C. Sabathia, the former star MLB pitcher for Cleveland, Milwaukee and the New York Yankees, poses those questions and more in a new video essay for FOX Sports to honor Jackie Robinson.

Monday marks the 77th anniversary of Robinson's MLB debut for the Brooklyn Dodgers, which broke the league's color barrier and made him the first Black player in league history. MLB now celebrates Jackie Robinson Day every April 15th, with every uniform in the league changed to No. 42 — the only uniform number retired league-wide — among many other tributes.

As Sabathia alludes to at the beginning of the two-and-a-half-minute essay, Robinson paved the way for Black baseball stars like him to succeed at the sport's highest level.


Sabathia goes on to quote Robinson acknowledging the significance of what he was doing, including the racist backlash he would receive and what it meant for Black Americans everywhere to see him playing in the previously-segregated MLB. As Sabathia pointed out, Robinson played a major role in paving the way for the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.

One of those Black Americans was a young boy in Mobile, Alabama, whose father pulled him out of school to watch Robinson give a speech and then play in an exhibition game nearby. The boy's name was Henry Aaron. Sabathia quotes MLB's future home run king as saying, "I was allowed to dream after that."

[Related: Baseball Hall of Fame announces Hank Aaron statue on 50th anniversary of his 715th home run]

Speaking of dreams, MLB will host a special "Field of Dreams"-style regular-season game at Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Alabama, this year — the same field where Robinson and a traveling All-Star team played an exhibition game in 1953 at the height of Jim Crow-era segregation in the South. 

As Sabathia points out, segregation was so heightened in that area at that time that, due to an ordinance prohibiting mixed-race games of any kind, the three white players on the team had to sit the game out. Robinson returned to the field with the Dodgers in April 1954 — with the ordinance temporarily lifted — allowing fans to not only watch Robinson play alongside his white Dodgers teammates but also a 20-year-old Hank Aaron take the field for the opposing Milwaukee Braves.

Watch Sabathia's full essay on Robinson's legacy, including those historic games at Rickwood Field, below. 

MLB at Rickwood Field: A tribute to the Negro Leagues will take place on June 20 at 7 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports App. The game between the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals will serve as a tribute to the former Negro Leagues team that called the field home, the Birmingham Black Barons, and in particular its greatest living player, Hall of Famer and Giants legend Willie Mays.

[Want great stories delivered right to your inbox? Create or log in to your FOX Sports account, follow leagues, teams and players to receive a personalized newsletter daily.]


Get more from Major League Baseball Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more