The years may move on, but the message and sacrifice will never be forgotten.

That is the legacy of Jackie Robinson.

It's been 69 years to the day - April 15, 1947 - that Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball when he played his first game for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

And as usual, MLB will celebrate Robinson, a man who changed the game. Even more importantly, a man who changed this country forever.

Today, all players and on-field personnel will wear number "42" in honor of Robinson's legacy. The touching gesture was first initiated in 2004.

The twist this year is that Robinson, who died in 1972, officially gets an apology from the City of Philadelphia. While Robinson was treated poorly by many in the game as the first black player, most believe the hostility from the Phillies was some of the worst he initially encountered.

Hence, a resolution from Philly's City Council, which passed unanimously, was extended, saying sorry.

"Jackie Robinson is even more alive in the present than I can think about any film we have done," filmmaker Ken Burns said. "Jackie even transcends baseball."

Burns' new documentary about Robinson premiered on PBS recently and is worth a watch. It's something folks should watch with the younger generation. We all need the knowledge about this icon.

And while the NFL and NBA came to the inclusion party later, MLB has never forgotten African Americans and their impact on both the sport and society.

Black people need to both remember that and embrace baseball as well.

After all, baseball is OUR game, too.


Somehow, we've lost our way, we think baseball is for others, not us.

We couldn't be more wrong. Baseball is a part of our heritage, is cut from our cloth.

Since Robinson, it's pretty amazing how dominant African Americans have been in a sport we weren't even allowed to play in until 60 years or so ago. The sport has been around more than twice as long.

When you look at the Top 10 players in homers all-time, black players hold four of the top six spots, including the top two with Barry Bonds and Hank Aaron, respectively. Babe Ruth is third.

And of the 26 players who have hit 500 or more, 11 of those players are African American.

Robinson's impact was, of course, bigger than just on the field. He made black people feel proud, a part of an America which at that point treated us as second-class citizens with segregation.

That's why blacks flocked to major league games to see him play with the Dodgers. Often times, they could only sit in bad bleacher seats, reserved for “coloreds”. And some racist owners even made our people pay double or triple the price for a ticket in an attempt to try to keep them out of the park. And black people, nonetheless, still showed up.

In the ‘80s, we started to stray. The Michael Jordan craze hit us and people wanted to be like Mike. Makes sense. We happened to witness one of, if not the, greatest basketball player ever. People got caught on the game.

But remember, even Jordan wanted to play baseball. And he was willing to go to the minors.

Sadly, the reason there aren't as many brothers playing baseball today has a lot to do with two factors. No. 1, Major League Baseball outsourced many jobs 15-20 years ago. That's when it started setting up baseball academies in Latin America.

It was a simple business decision. In the U.S., you'd often have to pay black and white players loot upfront and have to deal with agents and lawyers. That often wasn't the case in the Latino community years ago. 

Meanwhile, in our community, we had AAU basketball coaches making our kids quit baseball to focus only on basketball.

No one is saying black kids shouldn't want to play in the NBA or NFL. It's just they shouldn't shun baseball. They should play it as well and not be talked out of it by selfish coaches.

Robinson -- who was also a varsity athlete in football, basketball and track at UCLA -- changed this country forever, made us to be proud to be black in America.

We should never forget him or the idea that baseball is our sport, too. It always has been. Think about it, especially on this special day.