Reds feel the excitement of honoring Jackie

Reds feel the excitement of honoring Jackie

CHICAGO -- Friday will mark the 69th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking baseball's color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers. It will also be the 10th consecutive season in Major League Baseball in which all uniformed personnel will wear his number on Jackie Robinson Day, which this year will see the 42-clad Reds play the 42-clad Cardinals at Busch Stadium.

The tradition started on April 15, 2007, when Reds right fielder Ken Griffey Jr. sought permission from then-Commissioner Bud Selig and Robinson's widow, Rachel, for permission to wear No. 42. From that moment, all players were given the green light to continue the tribute.

"[Robinson] broke down a lot of barriers," Reds closer J.J. Hoover said on Thursday. "Just to be able to honor that by wearing the number ... It's just an honor."

Reds scheduled starter Tim Melville was already excited to be playing in his second big league game and doing it in the area where he went to high school in Wentzville, Mo. An additional treat for Melville is getting to wear No. 42.

"In high school I was fortunate enough to win the Jackie Robinson Award in the Aflac All-American game [in 2007]," Melville said. "I had known of him growing up, but that was my first connection. His daughter [Sharon] presented me with the award. Everything he did for the game and where we are today is amazing."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.