04/15/2013 6:46 PM ET
Former Dodgers ball boy helps honor Jackie
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com
MIAMI -- What Jackie Robinson experienced while breaking in with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, Norman Berman witnessed from his seat just outside the dugout at Ebbets Field.
In 1947, the year Robinson broke baseball's color barrier, Berman was a 19-year-old ball boy.
Brooklyn-born and -raised, Berman was an aspiring second baseman, in the Dodgers' system as a teenager. He had talent but lacked size, and that led to the end of his playing days. Still, he was lured back into the sport and paid $7 a game to be a ball boy.
On April 30, Berman will turn 85. Now a resident of West Palm Beach, he was at Marlins Park on Monday night, throwing out a ceremonial first pitch as Major League Baseball celebrated Jackie Robinson Day. In 1997, under the direction of Commissioner Bud Selig, Robinson's No. 42 was retired across all of Major League Baseball in an unprecedented tribute.
Berman was one of two special guests, as Pastor Joel Osteen also threw out a ceremonial pitch. Osteen was on hand to promote his upcoming "America's Night of Hope," which is taking place at Marlins Park on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET.
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A lifelong baseball fan, Berman had never thrown out a first pitch before Monday.
"It's an honor," Berman said.
Berman uses a cane for balance, but when it came time to throw, he put it to the side.
He saw the movie "42" on Thursday, and said that the scenes in the movie accurately reflect the struggles Robinson went through.
"They called him every word," he said. "I don't use those words. I was brought up where you took a person for who [they] are, and you didn't ask them what their religion is."
Berman doesn't believe that just any man could have endured what Robinson did.
"He was intelligent. College man," he said. "He played three or four different sports, and he was so great to talk to. He always had a smile on his face when he talked to me. I told him, 'I wanted to be a ball player. I just had to gain some weight.'
"Then we'd have a catch. I'd never go to him when he was playing pepper with the other guys, or if he was talking to somebody. Only when he was alone. Sometimes, when he was alone, I'd take the ball and throw it up in the air and catch it. That was my call to him. 'Could we have a chance now?' He'd say, 'Yeah.'"
To honor Robinson's legacy, every player in the Major Leagues on Monday is wearing No. 42. In addition, the Marlins presented a check to the Jackie Robinson Foundation.
"You circle this day on the calendar," left fielder Juan Pierre said. "It's pretty cool to wear that number."
Pierre was touched to be able wear No. 42 when he played with the Dodgers from 2007 to 2009.
"That was like, 'Whoa!' It was almost like the same uniform," he said. "The same colors. That was pretty cool."
To Pierre, Robinson's legacy far outreaches baseball.
"Just the type of man he was," he said. "Baseball is almost kind of secondary. He was the first black player, but there have been many great baseball players. We don't celebrate them like we do him. I think it's more of the man behind it."
With the release of "42," a new generation is hearing the story of the Hall of Famer who did so much to advance civil rights for all.
"It's starting to gain steam," Pierre said. "In baseball circles, everybody knows him. But people not in baseball circles, with this movie coming out, people who are not even baseball fans will be watching."
Stanton still sidelined, Kearns out of hospital
MIAMI -- Giancarlo Stanton still feels discomfort in his bruised left shoulder, so on Monday afternoon, he was re-examined by the team physician, Dr. Lee Kaplan.
"I told him where I'm at," Stanton said. "It's gotten better, but [the discomfort] is still there."
The 23-year-old missed his fourth straight game, and Miami is 1-3 in those contests.
After the Marlins' 10-3 loss to the Nationals, Stanton said that he is going to test the shoulder on Tuesday by swinging a bat.
"I'm all right," Stanton said. "I'm going to swing a little bit [on Tuesday] and see where I'm at."
Stanton feels a pinch when he tries to bring his shoulder up and forward.
"It feels like it's compressed or pinched going up," he said. "So we'll just see."
In a best-case scenario, is Stanton is pain-free on Tuesday and, possibly, available for the second of three games with Washington.
If not, the team will weigh whether to place the 2012 All-Star on the disabled list.
"We're playing shorthanded," manager Mike Redmond said. "We can't play shorthanded for too long. It's too tough."
Stanton is off to a slow start, batting .167 in nine games, with no home runs or RBIs.
The Marlins did receive some good news on Monday, as Austin Kearns was discharged from University of Miami Hospital. Kearns was in the dugout for Monday's game but will undergo more tests before being cleared to resume baseball activities.
The 32-year-old complained of an elevated heartbeat on Sunday morning and was taken to the hospital, where he remained overnight for observation.
In the short-term, both outfielders will miss at least another couple of days. As with Stanton, the club has to decide whether Kearns will need to go on the disabled list.
Stanton jarred the shoulder making a diving catch on April 6. He continued to play regularly until Friday night, when he informed the team he felt a pinch.
Stanton took batting practice on Friday but was scratched from the lineup about 30 minutes before the first pitch against the Phillies. He was available to pinch-run on Sunday, and the hope was he would resume hitting on Monday.
Justin Ruggiano, who was scratched from the lineup on Saturday with a tight right groin, started in right field on Monday. He is much improved over a couple of days ago.
"We can't continue to play down two guys," Redmond said. "We have to have some healthy bodies."
Marlins keeping tabs on Solano, Hechavarria
MIAMI -- They've combined for 160 games in the big leagues, which is why they are being closely monitored by Marlins management.
Donovan Solano is back in the starting lineup after he was given a breather on Sunday. The 25-year-old did make a pinch-hit appearance in the ninth inning of a 2-1 loss to the Phillies.
Solano was back in the starting lineup on Monday in the series opener with the Nationals.
Adeiny Hechavarria, who celebrated his 24th birthday on Monday, has started every game this season at shortstop.
Both lack much experience. Solano has 106 games in the big leagues, and Hechavarria is at 54. Both have already gone through some growing pains this year. So manager Mike Redmond is checking on them to see if mental fatigue sets in.
"It's hard to play every day in the big leagues," Redmond said. "It's the mental and physical preparation every single day. It's tough facing big league pitching. You never get a break. We've got to keep an eye on him."
Sometimes an off-day, like Solano had on Sunday, can help players refresh themselves.
"It's more of a mental day, just to kind of recharge your batteries," Redmond said. "I know as a player, when I played a lot, sometimes you just need it."