Upton proud to wear No. 42 once every year

Upton proud to wear No. 42 once every year

PITTSBURGH -- The Tigers will be in Houston on Jackie Robinson Day on Friday, when they will continue the tradition of wearing Robinson's old No. 42 to honor the anniversary of his Major League debut. It's not a tradition Justin Upton takes lightly.

As part of Major League Baseball's observation of the anniversary, all players across the league will wear No. 42. Though this marks Upton's ninth year in the big leagues, the significance of the day continues to resonate with him, not just in the opportunity to play the game, but the opportunity to build friendships with teammates across all different backgrounds.

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"Obviously, when you reflect on it, it takes a different meaning," Upton said. "But every year, it's an honor to wear 42. In the relationships you build through the game, you know that you would never have the opportunity to do that without Jackie's sacrifices. It's a special day every year."

The Tigers honor Robinson's legacy each April through the Jackie Robinson Art, Essay and Poetry Contest, now in its 20th year. Middle and high school students throughout the state of Michigan were encouraged earlier this year to submit an original work to help celebrate Robinson's nine values of success: courage, determination, teamwork, persistence, integrity, citizenship, justice, commitment and excellence.

Winners will be honored in a pregame ceremony during the Tigers' home schedule.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.