April 15, 2009
DeKalb, Ill. - Northern Illinois baseball freshman Troy White (Chicago, Ill./Whitney Young) participated in Jackie Robinson Day today at Wrigley Field as Major League Baseball celebrated the 62nd anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the baseball color barrier.
"It means a lot to me personally because I was drafted by the Cleveland Indians and Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier was a big reason why that was made possible," said White. "Also, his work as a civil rights activist and the type of person he was provide a great role model for young African-American kids and for me."
White was honored in a special pregame ceremony as he is on scholarship through the Jackie Robinson Foundation that was founded 36 years ago in honor of Robinson's legacy. The foundation was created to provide college scholarships and graduate school grants to academically gifted minority students. The foundation has a 97 percent graduation rate in comparison to the current 40.7 national graduation percentage of African-American students.
"We were taken out on the field and we were introduced and honored," White said. "Then we got to meet Derek Lee, Milton Bradley and Joey Gathright. It was a great experience. Then they escorted us to our seats which were right near the cameral well, but I didn't get to stay."
White was one of four Chicagoland honorees that were able to make it to Wrigley Field to watch the Chicago Cubs fall to the Colorado Rockies 5-2 in a game that started at 1:20 p.m. CT, but he didn't get to see hardly any of the game as he immediately headed back to DeKalb in hope of helping his teammates take on Chicago State in a game that started at 3:35 p.m.
"On the ride back to DeKalb, I took a nap and told my parents to wake me up a half an hour before we got back so I wouldn't be sluggish," said White. "Once I got back to NIU, I ran back to my dorm room, took off my suit and tie, changed into some street clothes and my parents to me back over to the locker-room to get changed into my uniform. When I got to the field, I stretched a bit to get warm. I was expecting to play. That's why I came back."
With the Huskies up 8-2 in the sixth inning, White entered the game at third base. Two innings later, he came up to the plate with no outs and runners on second and third. He then roped a single up the middle to score a pair of runs, marking his sixth RBI in his last two games to help NIU cruise to a 16-2 win over Chicago State on Wednesday evening at Ralph McKinzie Field. On the season, he has a .321 average, 16 runs, 35 hits, 20 RBI, and five doubles in 31 games, 28 of which have been starts. He also has a .362 on-base percentage and a .385 slugging percentage in addition to his eight multi-hit games and five multi-RBI games this year.
"It was great to be honored at Wrigley and then make it back for my game all in the same day," White said. "And then to top it off I was able to get a hit. Our hitting coach Jason Smith told me to sit back and let the ball come to me. My teammates had taken most of the pressure off me with the scoring being 8-2 so it was just fun to sit back, relax and let it fly to have some fun."
White and the Huskies (13-21, 4-7 Mid-American Conference) return to action this weekend as they wrap up a five-game homestand with a three-game MAC series against Toledo (14-17, 7-5 MAC) with games on Friday at 3:05 p.m., Saturday at 1:05 p.m. and Sunday at 1:05 p.m.