As luck would have it, directly after two days with several postponed games because of player protests, it was Jackie Robinson Day across Major League Baseball.
The event is typically held April 15, the day he became the first Black player in baseball in 1947, playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers. On this day, every player in the majors wears No. 42 to honor Robinson.
Since there were no games in April, it was rescheduled for Aug. 28, which is significant for two reasons. It’s the anniversary of Robinson’s first meeting with Dodgers president Branch Rickey in 1945. It’s also the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington in 1963.
“I came up a Dodger, was drafted by the Dodgers, so I understand the significance of Jackie Robinson and all the Black history that goes with the Dodgers and Don Newcombe and Roy Campanella and Maury Wills,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “Not Roy or Jackie, but some of those guys I was able to be around and listen to them talk, just the path they set and the things they dealt with off the field.
“This is a day you’re proud to wear 42 on your jersey. It really is. I usually wear a pullover. I’m going to wear my jersey today. It just means a lot to everybody.”
Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward was happy not to make a decision on sitting out or postponing a game on Jackie Robinson Day.
“I hadn’t thought about not playing today,” Heyward said before the game. “It’s nice timing, one of the great coincidences, the fact that we had an off-day and our next game is Jackie Robinson Day. It’s a really cool thing.”
Heyward mentioned that he and other major leaguers are donating their salaries from the past two days to the Jackie Robinson Foundation and other charities. Heyward said Cubs executives such as Theo Epstein and Crane Kenney are following suit.
Ross explains emotion: By the time Ross finished talking to reporters after Wednesday’s loss to Detroit, his voice started to break as the conversation became more emotional.
Ross was talking about Heyward’s decision to sit out the game in protest of the Jacob Blake shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin. On Friday from Cincinnati, Ross discussed what was going through his head at the time.
“It was a [lousy] day,” he said. “The organization was laying off a lot of people in the morning, then to turn into the news and all that happened with us and the tough decisions we were trying to make and a heavy heart with a really close friend. When I start thinking about the type of person that Jason Heyward and what he’s dealing with, that makes me emotional.”
Bryant, Souza progress: Kris Bryant and Steven Souza Jr. headed to the Cubs’ South Bend, Indiana, satellite camp to continue working back from injuries. Bryant has a left wrist and finger injury, while Souza is on the injured list with a right hamstring strain. Ross said each player got five at-bats Friday.
In pitching news, Ross said Yu Darvish and Alec Mills will start Saturday’s doubleheader against the Reds, while Sunday’s starter is still to be announced. It could be the day Jose Quintana gets his first start of 2020.