Friday, April 15, 2011

Jackie Robinson Day:
What's in a Number?

I always was fascinated by Jackie Robinson's story. As a young teen I read his autobiography "I Never Had it Made." Robinson's grace and fortitude against the hostility of players, fans and others was inspiring. It took a special person to check his anger.

Today, of course, is Jackie Robinson Day, baseball's annual rite of spring which honors the memory of the Dodgers' great who integrated the majors in 1947. I was at Shea Stadium when the tradition began on the 50th anniversary of Robinson's first game (although it did not become a baseball-wide event until 2004).

The ceremony that night had all the requisite bigwigs -- including Rachel Robinson, Jackie's widow, and even President Clinton. And baseball announced Robinson's No. 42 would be retired. Never was that honor more fitting than for Robinson, perhaps the only player who really changed the country.

But in the past few years it has become fashionable for most players to don Robinson's 42 each April 15. I find this tradition strange. It's confusing to watch and I can't help but think if his number is retired why is anyone wearing it? Personally, I'd rather see a uniform patch to honor Robinson's memory. Maybe even wear every day. After all, Robinson's impact only began on April 15. I continues to this day.


  1. I thought it was a nice gesture by Ken Griffey Jr when he first requested to honor Robinson by wearing his number for a day back in 1997(?), but I agree with you...I'd rather see a patch or something rather than all the players wearing 42.

    Except Mo, of course. :)

    Kevin referred me to your site, by the way. Didn't have to twist my arm. I love reading about baseball.

  2. I like Jackie Robinson day. It is fun to joke around about how "42 is having a great game, but 42 is really messing up out there". It is only once a year, and on the serious side, I think it gives parents watching with their kids a chance to have a discussion about who he was and his importance to the game and society.

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