04/16/09 3:21 AM ET
Dodgers pay tribute to Robinson
Hudson wears special shoes in honor of pioneer
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
In the game, all players wore Robinson's uniform No. 42.
"It never gets old," Dodgers outfielder Juan Pierre said. "It's good to take a step back and remember how great a man he was and it's even more special when you're in a Dodgers uniform. Some things you do every year are ho-hum. Not this. At some point in the game, you think about what he's done, especially being African-American, the sacrifices he made so we can be on the field."
Teammate Orlando Hudson not only wore the No. 42 jersey, he had Nike custom-make spikes and turf shoes with the number embroidered on the heel and a patch with Robinson's debut date -- 4/15/47 -- on the sole insert. They were worn only Wednesday and won't be worn again.
"Those are for the trophy case," he said. "I do this every year for Jackie Robinson. They're custom-made for today."
Before the game, the Dodgers aired on the video board a tribute to Robinson, showing highlights of his career in Dodger Blue. Dodgers special advisor to the chairman Don Newcombe, a teammate of Robinson, threw out the ceremonial first pitch to one of the newest Dodgers, second baseman Orlando Hudson.
In addition, the Dodgers recognized a group of Dodgers Scholars, 42 students who receive college scholarships from the Dodgers Dream Foundation, which donates $105,000 each year to the Jackie Robinson Foundation for the program.
The Dodgers honored six of those scholars who are attending Robinson's alma mater, UCLA:
Bijan Beglari, a freshman computer science major from Pacific Palisades, Calif.; Feven Girmay, a freshman biology major from Las Vegas, Nev.; Leslie Grant, a freshman biology major from San Diego; Bianca Carrion, a sophomore psychobiology major from Sylmar, Calif.; Marques Watson, a freshman political science major from Los Angeles; and Jade Smith, a Jackie Robinson alumna and 2007 graduate of UCLA now pursuing a sports MBA at San Diego State.
Dodgers manager Joe Torre said he met Robinson while he was an executive with a coffee company, after growing up as a Giants fan "hating him."
"He was a great player. He did everything," Torre said. "He was a tough, clutch player. I remember playing then what was like Little League. Everybody got a trophy and he was the image on the trophy. Those things stand out."
Grammy-nominated singer Eric Benet, nominated for Best R&B Album and Best Male R&B Vocal Performance, sang the national anthem before Wednesday night's game against the Giants.
And Branch Rickey III, the grandson of Dodgers executive Branch Rickey, the man responsible for signing Robinson, was to be honored at the Dodgers' Triple-A affiliate in Albuquerque.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.