Kirk Gibson spent much of his pregame press briefing Friday in praise of Jackie Robinson, who was honored by major league baseball on the 64th anniversary of the day made his major league debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers, breaking baseball's color barrier.
Gibson said he "Googled" Robinson in the morning to learn more about the player who hit .311, had a .409 on-base percentage and struck out only 291 times in a 10-year major league career. Robinson was the NL Rookie of the Year in 1947 and the NL MVP in 1949, but some Dodgers were reticent about playing with Robinson when he broke in.
"Here's my favorite quote. (Brooklyn manager) Leo Durocher said 'I don't care if the guy is yellow, black or if he has stripes like a (bleeping) zebra, I'm the manager of this team and I say he plays. What's more, he can make us all rich. And if any of you can't use the money, I will see that you will be traded,'" Gibson read off some note cards he brought into the conference.
Before the D-Backs' 5-2 loss to San Francisco, Gibson said the lessons of Robinson' inclusion continue to apply.
"Quite a player, wasn't he, besides what he did for everybody else as the game goes on? At the time they were talking about not letting him into the game because of his race. As we look at it today, there are so many differences at so many levels, I thought it was really pertinent to any team today. We have people from all over the world, people with different religious beliefs," Gibson said.
"It's pretty amazing what he did, to see the great game we have today. He was a special individual. A special human being. His cause really wasn't for himself. It was for everybody else. That's the best part about it."
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