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04/15/09 8:23 PM ET

Jackie Robinson Day in DC rained out

Nationals expected to honor baseball pioneer at later date

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals were scheduled to honor Jackie Robinson by wearing No. 42 on Wednesday night at Nationals Park. But the game between the Nationals and Phillies was postponed because of rain. Washington is expected to honor Robinson at a later date.

In March 2004, Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig designated April 15 as Jackie Robinson Day throughout the Major Leagues.

Jackie Robinson Complete Coverage

On April 15, 1997, on the 50th anniversary of Robinson breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball, his No. 42 was retired throughout baseball.

In 2007, in honor of the 60th anniversary of Robinson's first Major League game, the retirement was temporarily lifted to allow players to pay homage to him by wearing his number. On Wednesday, all of the Nationals and Phillies players, coaching staffs and managers were expected to wear No. 42.

Although the game was postponed, it didn't stop Nationals manager Manny Acta from paying homage to Robinson during a pregame news conference.

"Everything I have -- and big players where I come from in Latin America -- we have it all because of Jackie Robinson. He is the one who did it for us," Acta said. "Without Jackie Robinson, Juan Marichal, Ozzie Virgil Sr., Rico Carty and Felipe Alou never would have had the chance to come over here.

"It was tough for Jackie to be an American. Imagine us not only being minority, but also foreigners. We owe everything to him."

Outfielder/infielder Willie Harris gets emotional when talking about Robinson. They were both born in Cairo, Ga., and Harris knows how much Robinson means to baseball and society.

"Around the league, I think we are doing a great job as a far as honoring Jackie Robinson," Harris said. "He laid the groundwork and the red carpet for us and I'm very thankful and grateful what he has done for me."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.