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Violent backdrop in sports to Jackie Robinson Day
MIAMI (AP) - Lined up in front of their dugouts, all wearing No. 42 on Jackie Robinson Day, the Washington Nationals and Miami Marlins stood for a moment of silence to honor bombing victims at the Boston Marathon.
What began as an annual celebration to salute the man who broke baseball’s color barrier 66 years ago turned somber after a pair of explosions near the finish line in Boston _ about a mile from Fenway Park _ killed at least three people and injured more than 140 on Monday.
Hours later, Major League Baseball went on with ceremonies for the fifth Jackie Robinson Day at stadiums all over the country and north of the border in Toronto.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by this horrible occurrence and we are monitoring the situation,” MLB spokesman Pat Courtney said in a statement. “The safety of everyone that comes to our ballparks is always our top priority and we will continue to do everything to ensure a safe environment for our fans.”
There were moments of silence before each of the seven night games. At Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, President Barack Obama’s remarks to the nation were shown on the video board while the Phillies were taking batting practice.
“I think everyone was thinking about it,” said Philadelphia outfielder Ben Revere, who taped the message “PRAY for Boston” on his glove. “It hurts to see something like that happen.”
The game between the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays started at 11:05 a.m. on Patriots Day in Massachusetts and ended about an hour before the bombings. Fans near Fenway Park, some who had recently exited the game, could hear the explosions.
All the teams in action were asked to wear Robinson’s number, retired throughout baseball in 1997. Yankees closer Mariano Rivera is the only active player who still wears the number, and he has said he is retiring after this season.
Teams that didn’t play on Monday planned to pay tribute to Robinson on Tuesday.
Robinson’s debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947, is drawing special attention this year with the release of the film “42,” which went into wide release last weekend.
Robinson’s widow, Rachel, along with the couple’s daughter, Sharon, and son, David, were introduced before the Dodgers played the Padres in Los Angeles.
Harrison Ford bounced the ceremonial first pitch to Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. Ford plays ex-Brooklyn general manager Branch Rickey in “42.”
In Minnesota, Twins first baseman Justin Morneau saw a screening of the movie in spring training and was pleasantly surprised to see brief footage of himself running onto the field during some of the stock shots of players paying homage to Robinson by wearing his No. 42.
“I wasn’t expecting it, so it was pretty cool,” Morneau said. “Just quick running across the screen, but to see yourself in a movie of that importance is pretty cool.”
The Rays had a special screening, too.
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