Sunday was a good day to recognize everything Jackie Robinson did for baseball. If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be playing right now.
That goes for all sports, because his breaking the color barrier in baseball rippled through to the other sports as well. All of the guys wearing that number 42, I just think that's a blessing. People respect his day.
I wasn't really into the baseball history and stuff when I was growing up. The older I got, the more I came to recognize and honor the things Jackie did for baseball. I had to find out later on because when I was younger, I wasn't really into it. Then I realized all the things he went through and I was amazed.
Of course I feel lucky to be able to play baseball and make a name for myself in this day and age. If that were me back then, I don't think I could go through all of the things he went through. I can imagine and picture it and I don't think I could've done it. It took a strong man to do that, and he was the right man for the job.
I'm almost 26, so I watched guys like my teammate Ken Griffey Jr. growing up. But there are fewer and fewer black players today. I don't know if we have a lot of black superstar players who will inspire kids to play right now. It depends on the person. Different guys light up different kids' eyes. It could be anybody.
People are talking about how the drop-off in black players in the Majors stems from the drop in participation in younger kids. That's a tough problem. To tell you the truth, it's just up to parents and black people in general, not people in baseball, to fix this problem.
One reason that a lot of black kids in the inner city don't play is that baseball's expensive. Then there's location. There are a lot of kids I grew up with that could've played pro baseball, but they play in bad neighborhoods. Scouts won't go there. It depends on the people -- the parents and the kids -- to decide if baseball is the sport to play.
Brandon Phillips is the starting second baseman for the Cincinnati Reds. The Stone Mountain, Ga., native has eight hits in his first 12 games, but three of them (two home runs) have been for extra bases. Phillips hit .276 with 17 homers and 75 RBIs last season with the Reds, his first full year in the Majors.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.