ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – On the 75th anniversary of Jackie Robinson making his Major League Baseball debut, the Albuquerque Isotopes celebrated his legacy as both an athlete and businessman who helped break the color barrier.
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The evening began with a video tribute to Robinson and the history of black baseball players in New Mexico. Players who helped paved the way for African Americans to enjoy the game in the Land of Enchantment include Bud Fowler, Bill Petus, Owen Smaulding and Herb Simpson.
Fowler played during the late 1800s in 22 different states, including New Mexico, and is considered to be one of the first first black professional baseball players. He will be inducted to the National Baseball Hall of Fame this summer.
In the spirit of Robinson’s post-playing business ventures, the Isotopes also presented the inaugural Jackie Robinson Making a Difference award to the oldest black-owned business in Albuquerque, Mr. Powdrell’s BBQ.
Joe and Mike Powdrell accepted the award on behalf of the family and also participated in pre game ceremonies. Mike threw out the first pitch while Joe was on the receiving end.
All Isotopes players honored Robinson by wearing his number, 42. Robinsons number 42 was also highlighted in the outfield as a retired number, as well as the distance markers of 428 in center field had the 4 and 2 painted in blue to represent his time with the Dodgers.
During the game, local artist Noah Barnett created a mural of Robinson.