Thursday, April 12, 2007

Wear No. 42 For Jackie Robinson (Updated, below)

Barton Silverman/The New York Times

Willie Randolph said he once borrowed a biography on Robinson from a library and “I saw how one life can make such a tremendous impact.”

I wonder what Jackie Robinson would have thought of seeing America in 2007, 60 years after he broke the color barrier in baseball, debating whether it was OK for a white man to call a team of female, mostly black athletes "nappy-headed hos"? I bet he rolled over in his grave.

I want one of the No. 42 shirts.

NYTimes: A Gesture of Respect Grows Into a Movement

Published: April 13, 2007

Sixty years after Jackie Robinson shook the baseball establishment and broke the sport’s color barrier, an unforeseen grassroots movement by today’s players has suddenly shaped the way Major League Baseball will commemorate the anniversary. Hundreds of players will wear Robinson’s No. 42 retired by baseball 10 years ago in ballparks across the country on Sunday, the anniversary of Robinson’s first appearance with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.

While the tribute has received baseball’s approval, it grew spontaneously from a request by the Cincinnati Reds’ Ken Griffey Jr., who asked earlier this month if he could wear the number on April 15. What has evolved since is surprisingly organic for a group of famous, feted athletes with multimillion-dollar contracts.

As word of Griffey’s gesture spread, small groups of players decided to also wear 42 that day. Soon, there was a representative from every team. The Los Angeles Dodgers then decided to have their entire roster wear 42.

Now, there are six major league teams that plan to have everyone in uniform wearing No. 42 — players, coaches, manager and bat boys. Those teams are the Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Phillies, Milwaukee Brewers and Houston Astros.

And the number of jerseys having a new 42 sewn onto the back remains fluid, but seems to be increasing by the day.

Jackie Robinson and his son David being interviewed at the "March on Washington"
August 28, 1963
From the National Archives

Update: Did you know that Bill Russell was a pallbearer at Jackie Robinson's funeral? And that he was Jackie Robinson's favorite athlete? Robinson was a revolutionary.

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