It wasn’t a long speech, but it hit home: Denzel Washington’s homage to Jackie Robinson — wearing Robinson’s No. 42 in Dodger Stadium — drew a stirring response from the crowd, on a day that also honored Robinson’s widow, Rachel, on her 100th birthday.
Speaking Tuesday night on the field before the 2022 All-Star Game in Los Angeles, Washington commemorated the day in April 1947 when Robinson made his debut for the Brooklyn Dodgers, obliterating baseball’s color barrier “with supreme talent and unshakable character.”
The actor also celebrated Robinson’s activism, and his many pursuits outside of sports.
Denzel Washington honors Jackie Robinson. Chills. #AllStarGame pic.twitter.com/Tm9BEj1FHJ
— MLB (@MLB) July 20, 2022
“He changed the game of baseball and so much more. What he carried with him, what he represented, was towering,” Washington said, citing Robinson’s decorated career.
“Beyond the field, Jackie Robinson challenged us to become better versions of ourselves: business leader, family man, activist, Hall of Famer,” Washington said.
Those words were later amplified by two tributes to Rachel Robinson: an on-field happy birthday cheer led by current Dodgers player Mookie Betts, and a video piece narrated by actress Octavia Spencer, who called the Robinsons a pair of pioneers on “the unstoppable way forward.”
“His trial was her trial. His pain was her pain. She read the hate mail,” Spencer said.
“She defines the unstoppable way forward as much as her beloved Jack.” – Tom Verducci on Rachel Robinson
✒️ “Rachel at 100” by Tom Verducci
🎙️ narrated by @octaviaspencer pic.twitter.com/xMkwM4eUJf
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) July 19, 2022
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SOURCE: NPR, Bill Chappell