MIAMI - Major League Baseball honors the accomplishments of Jackie Robinson each year on April 15. On that day in 1947, he became the first African American to play in the league when he took the field with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
In honor of the 66th anniversary of that game, the Miami Marlins had Robinson's former ball boy to throw out the honorary first pitch ahead of their game against the Washington Nationals.
Norman Berman was the ball boy for the Brooklyn Dodgers the year Robinson began paving the way for other African American athletes.
"I couldn't believe it, that I'm playing catch with Jackie Robinson. That was something that was out of this world!"
Now 84, his respect for Robinson has not seemed to dwindle over the years.
"You've got to look up to a man like that and you wish you had the knowledge that he had to be able to do what he did," Berman told Local 10's Aiyana Cristal. "He was a great ball player but he sacrificed a lot of things when he started to play."
According to Berman, Robinson's method for dealing with the angry and racist response from fans and other players was to do his absolute best on the field.
"You want to play ball? You answer everybody who curses at you, who tries to hit you with a base hit, with a home run and a stolen base. That's how you answer them!"
Berman says Robinson's example taught him anything is possible and to follow his dreams.
"Don't let anything stop you, especially if you're going to be the first one... because you're paving a path for all the other people that if you can do it, anybody can do it."
All MLB players who had games on Monday wore 42 in honor of Robinson. His number is the only one that is retired for all Major League Baseball teams.
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