60 years ago today, Jackie Robinson started at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers and broke baseball's color barrier. Robinson's number 42 was retired by all of Major League Baseball in 1997 and in 2004, baseball declared April 15 as an annual day of celebration. For me, these ceremonies have gone entirely unnoticed. Until this year.
At this afternoon's Devil Rays vs. Twins game, Torii Hunter wore Robinson's 42 and high socks like Jackie. Devil Rays' outfielder Carl Crawford also wore number 42 today. Fans were also given a commemorative program upon entering the stadium. In addition, every player had a Jackie Robinson Day sticker on his batting helmet.
At tonight's Padres vs. Dodgers game there will be a pre-game ceremony honoring Jackie and all of the Dodgers players and coaches will were number 42.
The wearing of Robinson's number is the idea of Ken Griffey, Jr. I think its a fantastic idea. Allowing star players to wear the number for one game has brought a tremendous amount of attention to the celebration. ESPN has been promoting tonight's game very heavily and there is even a story about race and baseball in Time magazine as well as interviews with legendary players. Today, fans will be reminded of Robinson's contributions to the game throughout the day rather than just in a brief ceremony that most will miss. Major League Baseball has done a fantastic job of honoring one its most important figures.
Update: I noticed it in the Devil Rays vs. Twins game and it was confirmed during Sunday Night Baseball and highlights on ESPN: the players who wore number 42 did not have their names on the back of their jerseys. This was a great way to keep the focus on Jackie and not the players who were honoring him. Also, Jerry Stackhouse of the Washington Wizards, who wears number 42 everyday, honored Jackie by writing Jackie's name on his sneakers during this afternoon's game.
Twins 4, Devil Rays 6 (Twins not 7-5)
Brewers 2, Cardinals 10 (Brew Crew now 6-5)
Reds 1, Cubs 0 (Reds now 7-5) Congratulations on a fine pitching performance to Kile Lohse. Lohse went 8 innings, gave up no runs, and struck out 12.