HOUSTON -- You wouldn't have known it just looking at the batting practice jerseys, but by game time, Jackie Robinson's signifier was everywhere in Minute Maid Park.
Hours before the annual celebration of baseball's first African-American player showed up on the back of their jerseys in the form of the No. 42, several Royals reflected on the former Dodger star's impact on the modern game.
"Just to get to wear No. 42 again, for all that he endured, all that he went through, the death threats to him and his family -- you get emotional," said outfielder Justin Maxwell. "To still go out and be one of the best players in the big leagues and endure all those things is incredible. The best word to describe it is a pioneer. He went above and beyond what should be asked of anybody. I wish I had an opportunity to meet him. We always have him to thank for our careers."
Jarrod Dyson wasn't dismissive of Robinson's effect on the acceptance of black ballplayers. Far from it, actually, as Dyson took a wider scope in thinking of the six-time All-Star's impact.
"It's not just what he did for black players," Dyson said. "You see all the Latin guys and guys from Japan in our game. He made it a global game. Anyone can come here and play because of him."
Alex Gordon said he's especially noticed how Jackie Robinson Day's impact has evolved through the years and said there's no better reminder than the number on the back of the jersey.
"It's really special, almost like you can feel that number on your back all game," he said. "You get a reminder of the sacrifices he made that made this game better. Everything about how we approach this day enhances his legacy. I think we do it right."
Chris Abshire is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.