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Mookie Betts in MLB Jackie Robinson video: ‘There’s not an American in this country free until every one of us is free’

Robinson: “If you’re going to spend your whole life in the grandstand just watching what goes on, in my opinion, you’re wasting your life.”

Jackie Robinson Day is being celebrated throughout Major League Baseball on Friday, and the league released a video narrated by Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts, directed by Randy Wilkins, which honors his legacy and quotes Robinson throughout.

Here is the transcript of Betts’ narration:

The most luxurious possession, the richest treasure anybody has is his personal dignity. If I had a room jammed with trophies, awards, and citations, and a child of mine came into the room and asked what I had done in defense of those fighting, and I had to tell that child I kept quiet, that I had been timid, I would have to mark myself a total failure in the business of living.

I cannot say I have it made while our country drives full speed ahead to a deeper rift between men and women of varying colors, speeds along a course towards more and more racism. Life is not a spectator sport. If you’re going to spend your whole life in the grandstand just watching what goes on, in my opinion, you’re wasting your life.

Until every child can have an equal opportunity in youth and manhood, until hunger is not only immoral but illegal, until hatred is recognized as a disease, a scourge, an epidemic, and treated as such, until racism and sexism are conquered, until that day Jackie Robinson and no one else can say he has it made. There’s not an American in this country free until every one of us is free.

MLB released a statement saying: “Through a mix of archival footage and photos from Jackie’s life, and modern visuals of peaceful protests, we recognize that Jackie’s words still ring true today. ‘4 Us 2 Remember’ reminds us that Jackie’s legacy does not live on only through the players who wear 42, but also through everyone who stands against injustice.”

There was no MLB on April 15 this year — which is when No. 42 is usually remembered — so Jackie Robinson Day was moved to Aug. 28, the 75th anniversary of his first meeting with Branch Rickey. This is only the second time in the last 16 years the Dodgers are on the road on Jackie Robinson Day, having played in San Francisco in 2014.

Jackie’s daughter Sharon Robinson narrated an essay on MLB Network about that meeting, and the impact of Robinson’s legacy:

Despite the change in date, given the events of the past week, with players and teams postponing games to protest racial injustice, this just might be the most impactful Jackie Robinson Day since it was instituted in 1997.

Dodgers and Rangers players and coaches also collaborated on this video that will be shown at Globe Life Field before the game.

The Players Alliance, made up of over 120 current and former Black players, made a “thank you” video for Jackie Robinson as well.

I recommend you also read this moving piece from Shakeia Taylor at Baseball Prospectus, “Dear Jackie”:

I know everything sounds terrible by my account, Jackie, but maybe…perhaps, we are merely in the middle and not the beginning. There’s also what feels like an awakening happening. People are paying attention. Changes may be on the horizon. The up and comers in the league are different. Different in the most incredible way. The league was saying “let the kids play” but still allowing things like unwritten rules to be a part of the game. But these “kids” are saying no, they’re pushing back, they’re having fun playing baseball. They’re dancing and singing in the dugouts. They’re rocking partially buttoned jerseys and gold chains. They are… being their whole selves and the energy is contagious. Hopefully one day what they bring to the game will be the standard and not the exception.