April 15 was a red-letter day for the Rockies. The Rockies' planned before Spring Training broke to start Drew Pomeranz in the Minors, then recall him to start on the mound against the D-backs Sunday, the first day the schedule would force the Rockies to use a fifth starter in their rotation. Young was a possible casualty of the recall, along with Jonathan Herrera and Jordan Pacheco, three bench players who won two spots when Pomeranz started the season in the Minors.
Not only did Young Jr. keep his place on the roster, but he took the field at the same time as his father, who is a first base coach for the D-backs. And to make it even sweeter, both wore No. 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson.
"It's going to be a great honor for both of us," Young Jr. said before the game. "That's why my dad originally wore No. 21, just trying to be half the man that Jackie was. For us to both wear the jersey and be on the field at the same time is something special for our family."
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Sunday marks the 65th anniversary of Robinson breaking baseball's color barrier at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. Robinson was in the lineup as a first baseman that day, but he is widely remembered as a second baseman, the position Young Sr. first played for the inaugural Rockies of 1993, sealing his place in club history by hitting the first pitch of the first home game over the left field wall at Mile High Stadium.
"I wouldn't have the opportunity I have today without Jackie Robinson," Young Jr. said. "He made it possible for us to play on all these Major League fields. I wouldn't be here without him. I understand what he means to the game."
Young Jr. shows something of Robinson in his approach to the game, and when he's on the base paths, he can be every bit the dynamic threat that Robinson was. But it's the characteristics of the man that mean the most to Young Jr., who grew up in a baseball family and is well aware of his roots.
"Just like life, you're not going to get everything you want, and it's not going to be an easy task," Young Jr. said, reflecting on what Robinson's example taught him.
"Sometimes there's going to be times when you want to fight back and times when you need to be smart. Knowing the ultimate goal of not having the game segregated and not fighting back, it takes a strong man to do that.
"Looking back and seeing how he played -- he was a fearless guy, speed guy, and those two attributes right there are a plus. You can't really be scared when you're out here playing. You just got to go for it."
Young is in his fourth big league season, but he has never been on the roster this early in the season and has never been able to participate on the field in a Jackie Robinson Day celebration.
"This will be my first one, so I'm excited to wear the uniform, and also to have my dad wearing the same one across the way," Young Jr. said "It's going to be an honor."
The Rockies celebrated with a special commemoration before the game started, playing an inspiring video that highlighted the characteristics Robinson embodied both on and off the field.
"When you think about this man... the doors that he opened up for how many different people, and what he went through in order to open those doors for people -- that's enough said," manager Jim Tracy said. "You see the bios on TV and the letters, the hate mail that he received. I was given a pretty good education about all of it over the [seven years] that I was in the [Dodgers] organization. It's a special man that absorbs all that and still goes out and does what he did."