In honor of Jackie Robinson Day, Bank of America sponsored the “Play It Forward” baseball clinic on April 15 at Jesse Owens Park. Dodgers pitcher Andre Jackson and former Dodgers Andre Ethier, James Loney and Jerry Hairston Jr. were in attendance to facilitate drills.
The goal of the clinic was to inspire the next generation to play and learn the game of baseball as well as to gain important life skills. More than 50 youth baseball players from the Hollywood Indies Little League (H.I.L.L.) and the Al Wooten Youth Center were instructed by Dodger players and alumni. They rotated between four different clinic stations as the professional players shared insights and life skills from their personal journeys.
Jackson explained how Robinson makes him think about gratitude and belief. He also talked about his pitching performance during the Dodgers’ 8-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs.
“If you had a bad game, today I get to believe in something bigger than myself. I don’t have the time to sit here and sulk about my game,” Jackson said. “When I move on onto today, I got to think about how do I get back to being confident.”
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Jackson gave youth hand-on training at the pitching station. The youth also engaged in batting and fielding drills. Loney learned about Robinson’s impact on baseball after he got drafted to the club as the 19th overall pick in the 2002 MLB Draft.
During his years with the Dodgers, the desire to win on Jackie Robinson day was crucial.
“You want to win every day, especially that day, especially in a Dodger uniform and I feel like we always played at home for the most part,” Loney said. “You want it for the fans, there’s the energy and you feel like [Robinson] is with you.”
Although he has been with the Dodgers for three seasons, this year marks Jackson’s first Jackie Robinson day in the major leagues. Jackson noted how grateful he was to wear the number 42 jersey as a Dodger.
“[Robinson] stood for a lot of people other than himself and there was probably a lot of times in his life he wanted to quit and didn’t want to believe in himself,” Jackson said. “But he knew that it was bigger than him, he had an opportunity to do something great.”