A Fitting Tribute

On October 22, 1982, Jose Cano named his newborn son Robinson in tribute to the heroic Jackie Robinson, an African American baseball player who would come to be remembered as the man who broke the color barrier.  It’s hard to believe that just sixty short years ago our American past time was played by only white men . Today, Jackie Robinson’s number 42 is retired throughout Major League Baseball, with the exception of Mariano Rivera who is grandfathered into the league wide retirement. The number is only worn once a year, on Jackie Robinson day. On this day, across the majors, every ball player dons the number 42 on their back to symbolize equality in the sport.

This year, Jackie Robinson day was celebrated on Thursday April 15. The greatest of all of the tributes took place at Yankee Stadium with Robinson’s widow, Rachel, his daughter Sharon, and grandson Jesse Simms honored before first pitch. Cano and the family embraced before the game as the festivities took place.

“I wish she came here every day,” Cano said. “It’s special for me. He’s a guy who opened the doors for us. If it wasn’t for him, who knows where I’m going to be now? I would say the world should be proud of Jackie.”

The tribute continued during the nine inning affair with Cano belting two home runs over the right field wall. In the bottom of the second inning, Cano launched his first home run off Angels starter Scott Kazmir to tie the game at one. When Cano stepped into the box against Kazmir in the bottom of the fifth, he unloaded the offering over the head of former Yankee Bobby Abreu for  a two run home run. The Yankees went on to a 6-2 victory, with the Angel’s only runs coming from a home run in the second off the bat of 2009 World Series MVP Matsui who, despite being decked in red, received cheers from the Bronx faithful.

Back in 1982, Jose Cano had no way of knowing just how perfect his son’s name would fit him. Robinson Cano certainly paid a fitting tribute to his namesake on April 15th and is making the most out of hitting  in the fifth spot in 2010. He has jumped out of the gate swinging and has amassed a .395 average, 4 home runs, 9 RBI, and is poised for an MVP caliber year.

Jay Ferraro is the Executive Producer of Baseball Digest LIVE and Gotham Baseball LIVE.  He is also the Fantasy Editor for Baseballdigest.com as well as a columnist for Baseball Digest Magazine and Gothambaseball.com. You can reach him at Jay_Ferraro@Juno.com , follow him on Twitter and add him on Facebook.