Why Jackie Robinson Day is complicated for Major League Baseball | Baseball Bar-B-Cast

Yahoo Sports senior MLB analyst Jordan Shusterman and Jake Mintz look at the positives and negatives surrounding MLB's annual tribute to Jackie Robinson. Hear the full conversation on the “Baseball Bar-B-Cast” podcast - and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen.

Video Transcript

JORDAN SHUSTERMAN: Jake, let's begin with the day that it is, the day on the calendar, April 15th, Jackie Robinson Day. Jake, I will say that this is a day-- as important as it is, it does often kind of sneak up on me as we're settling into the regular season. And then suddenly, we have this day where all the teams are playing, and everyone's wearing 42. It's like, all right. Yes. Awesome. Good.

Now, again, this is as it could be. Could be its own podcast on its own. There will be a lot of fantastic writing about Jackie Robinson Day and about Jackie Robinson that I think we're going to encourage you to read and to check out today. But before we get into the baseball, any broad, big-picture thoughts you wanted to talk about here?

JAKE MINTZ: Yeah. I mean, I think Jackie Robinson Day is a good thing because it keeps him and his legacy in the public popular consciousness. But it is in some ways a dangerous thing because it in a lot of ways whitewashes what his legacy was. Jackie Robinson, like a lot of people, was a complicated person who you cannot easily fit into one box.

And when you have someone like Jackie Robinson, who's-- you know, his entire thing is to fight back against established structures. Having MLB be the one who is the gatekeeper of his legacy and being tasked with making sure it lives on, there are certain elements of it that they're going to leave out and certain elements of it that they're going to highlight.

It's like, well, Jackie Robinson existed because your league had a bunch of racists who wouldn't let people play, wouldn't let him other people like him play in the first place. Right? And so I think that kind of gets lost. But I tell people when they ask me, a white dude, about Jackie Robinson-- I just say go read "I Never Had it Made," which is his autobiography, to hear about Jackie in his own words, which is important.

Also not the full story, right? Any autobiography is going to have some bias baked into it, but I would also recommend-- and I was talking to Tyler Kepner of "The Athletic" about this-- go read "First Class Citizenship," which is a collection of letters that Jackie Robinson sent to other members of the civil rights movement. A lot of revealing things in there. I just picked that book up. I'm going to start flipping through it this week.

And then friend of the show, Clinton Yates, went to Wichita a couple of days ago and is going to write about that community, which had its Jackie Robinson statue stolen over the off-season, I believe. So a lot to dig through, a lot to read. It's a good entryway to learning about Jackie Robinson for sure.