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White Sox’ Tim Anderson wants to make an impact

It’s not lost on Tim Anderson that he’s one of a kind in the White Sox’ clubhouse.

On Jackie Robinson Day, that took on special meaning.

“I’m the only African American on the team, so I think it’s only right to pay tribute to him,” Anderson, 25, said before every player wore Robinson’s No. 42 when the Sox hosted the Royals on Monday at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Anderson took it a step further earlier in the day, joining coaches Daryl Boston and Todd Steverson and broadcaster Darrin Jackson to meet local students and players from the Sox’ Amateur City Elite (ACE) and Youth Guidance programs in Chatham to host a viewing of “42,” the feature film recounting the story of Robinson’s historic season breaking the color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers. It was Anderson’s idea, and others got on board.

White Sox Tim Anderson urges his ball over the wall after he hit a grand slam during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium, Sunday, April 14, 2019, in New York. (AP)

“It’s tough to watch it,” Anderson said. “But brave on his part. For him to be the guy to go through that, to just be a leader and basically break the barrier. Jackie is a guy that I look up to and a guy that motivates me when I step on the field.”

Anderson’s offensive play on the field has been off the charts. He went 3-for-4 with a double and scored twice against the Royals, raising his major-league-leading average to .453. He’s batting .621 (18-for-29) with two homers in six home games.

Because he was more interested in basketball growing up in Alabama, Anderson almost didn’t even participate in baseball. He didn’t play in high school till his junior year but got into the game “because I always wanted to be different, so I stepped outside the box. I just wanted to live a little bit, so I picked up a baseball.’’

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It’s not lost on Anderson that black kids aren’t following suit — African Americans made up only 7.7 percent of the players on Opening Day major-league rosters, a concern that always becomes a topic on Jackie Robinson Day.

“The more we pour it on them, the more they’ll be interested in getting into it,” Anderson said, and perhaps less apprehensive about giving it a try. “And not being afraid to play it. When you’re young, all it takes is to get hit by a ball to ruin it.’’

Robinson’s fearless, trailblazing breakthrough moved Anderson to write a letter to him, which was packaged by showing Anderson reading the handwritten letter in a moving video tribute to Robinson on Sox TV. It went like this:

“Dear Jackie, how can we say thank you? For paving the way. For me, for my kids. For kids everywhere. How can we thank you for playing hard, for playing fast, for shocking the world? How can we say thank you for standing up, for being stronger, for being an icon, a legend, an example?

‘‘How can we say thank you? The way you showed us — with ­actions.”

Good stuff, indeed.

Anderson wants to follow suit and be an example himself.

“Being the only African American on the South Side, I try to leave a huge impact because most of the kids on the South Side are black,” he said.

Two and a half weeks into the season, it has been a great 2019 already for Anderson. His wife gave birth to the couple’s second child, and there he is, on top of baseball in hitting.

“You guys don’t see it, but I’ve been working hard,” he said.

We see you leading the league, don’t you?

“I mean, I know now,” he said. “You guys telling me, all these cameras. I guess that’s what comes with it. I’m going to continue to be me; I’m going to keep having fun.

“I’m very proud, but I’ve got to keep going. Don’t stop here.”