Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon, wearing Jackie Robinson's No. 42,… (Keith Birmingham / Associated…)
Dee Gordon made an opening-day roster for the first time this spring, which meant he was also in a major league uniform Sunday for his first Jackie Robinson Day, baseball's annual tribute to the former Dodger who broke baseball's color barrier in 1947.
"I'm definitely honored," said Gordon who, like all big leaguers, wore Robinson's No. 42 on Sunday. "Wearing his number [shows] my respect for him. Last year I was in triple A and I watched those guys wear the jerseys and I thought, 'you know what? I can't wait for it to be my turn.' "
Unlike many players, Gordon has studied Robinson's history — so much so he took part in a panel discussion on the Hall of Famer's legacy last week at John Muir High in Pasadena, the school Robinson attended.
"To share my appreciation to Jackie for what he did for us in this sport, it was awesome," Gordon said.
Gordon then gave the Dodgers a game Robinson would have appreciated, lining a two-out pitch to left field for the first game-winning hit of his career in a 5-4 win over the San Diego Padres.
The Dodgers make their first plane flight of the season Monday, so Sunday the players and coaches were presented with large black suitcases with the interlocking "LA" logo. It's a tradition every team follows at the start of a new season, meaning if you play for enough teams, eventually you'll have a full set of luggage marked with team emblems.
"The Nationals had really nice luggage. They gave us luggage for our suits," said Jerry Hairston Jr., who has bags from Washington, the Chicago Cubs, Baltimore, Milwaukee, the New York Yankees and San Diego.
Backup catcher Matt Treanor also has quite a collection, having been with Florida (now Miami), Detroit, Milwaukee, Kansas City and Texas before signing with the Dodgers in November.
"People in our neighborhood," Treanor jokes, "are waiting for our garage sale."
Bullpen coach Ken Howell, who missed the final three games of the Dodgers' first homestand with a diabetes-related issue, was out of uniform but in the dugout before Sunday's game. He'll skip the team's six-game trip this week. Jim Slaton, pitching coordinator at the team's Camelback Ranch training facility in Arizona, will take his place.