PASADENA -- The Dodgers Community Caravan is designed to focus fan attention on the present and future, but the stop at Pasadena City College on Tuesday had historic overtones.
The campus is where the legendary Jackie Robinson launched a career that ultimately broke Major League Baseball's color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers and forever changed American society. Major League Baseball celebrates the 60th anniversary of Robinson's Major League debut this year.
On this first day of a two-day tour through the Southland, young Dodgers Russell Martin and Andre Ethier were joined by new Dodgers Luis Gonzalez and Randy Wolf and manager Grady Little. But to fully appreciate the significance of the link, it was up to former Dodgers Willie Davis, Lou Johnson and Steve Garvey.
When the Dodgers were greeted by the current PCC baseball team in uniform, Davis and Johnson made their way to the school's athletic Hall of Fame and literally kissed the stone bust of Robinson.
"If it weren't for Jackie Robinson," said Johnson, hero of the Dodgers' 1965 World Series champs, "I wouldn't be standing here today. He was my idol."
"I met Jackie Robinson in another life," said a choked-up Davis. "To me, he is baseball."
"I met Jackie Robinson in 1956 when I was a batboy in Spring Training," said Garvey, whose father drove team buses in Florida. "I remember the dignity of the man. This is where the content of his character began."
And to think that this isn't the first meeting of Steve Garvey and Jackie Robinson.