Justin Dunn and Kyle Lewis each had the same idea as they arrived at Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock on Monday.
The only problem was, the Arkansas Travelers had just one No. 42 jersey. So, on the day players and teams across the sport celebrated Jackie Robinson breaking baseball's color barrier in 1947, the two Travs made a compromise.
"I figured I wanted to wear it. He said he wanted to wear it," said Lewis, the Travs' designated hitter Monday. "But it was too big for him to pitch in. So I said, 'Pass it to me.' "
In the end, both got to pay tribute.
Dunn, the Travs' right-handed starting pitcher, wore the jersey while warming up in the Travs' bullpen, then the two switched jerseys in the dugout before the first pitch.
It worked out for both, as Lewis singled in his first at-bat and Dunn held the Northwest Arkansas Naturals to one hit while striking out 8 over 5⅔ innings of a 2-0 victory.
"Just great to get the opportunity to pay my respects and understand where the game has come and where it came from," Lewis said. "I got to go out there and wear it and hopefully have a picture with it. It means a lot, man. It means a lot."
Dunn -- the Seattle Mariners' No. 3 prospect and No. 88 in baseball, according to MLB.com -- said it was the first time he's ever pitched on Jackie Robinson Day. But since the jersey was too big, he settled for tossing a few warm-up pitches with No. 42 on his back, then switching to his familiar No. 6 when the game began.
Dunn called it a "great honor" to wear the jersey, however briefly.
"I wouldn't be here without Jackie," he said. "I thank God that he went through everything he went through to pave the road for guys like me and guys like Kyle, and honestly all the guys who play the game."
Dunn earned his first victory of the season by shutting down the Naturals, who lost their eighth consecutive game after the Travs scratched a run across in the first and fourth innings.
Donnie Walton singled in the first inning and scored on Dom Thompson-Williams' single to left. In the fourth, Jordan Cowan and Joseph Odom singled, and Jake Fraley walked to load the bases. Walton then singled to score Cowan to set the final score.
The Travs were held to two hits over the final three innings, but Jack Anderson, Bryan Bonnell and Art Warren held the Naturals scoreless over 3⅓ innings to move the Travs to 9-2, tied for their best start since 2005.
"They all work together really well, they hold each other accountable, they're open to learning," Travs Manager Mitch Canham said of his team. "That locker room has a lot of men with high character. It's really fun and easy to work with them."
Naturals starter Jace Vines held the Travs to 2 runs and 8 hits while striking out 6 over 5 innings, but it wasn't enough to stop an eight-game losing streak, with six of those losses coming by two runs or fewer.
"I hear the dugout, and I'm not concerned right now," Naturals Manager Darryl Kennedy said. "They're out there trying. They don't want to lose. We don't want to lose. It's early. We've been through it before."
Sports on 04/16/2019
Print Headline: Two Travelers share honor of wearing No. 42 in victory