History buff Ziegler humbled to honor Robinson

D-backs reliever says pioneer is his favorite player of all time

History buff Ziegler humbled to honor Robinson

LOS ANGELES -- Friday when the D-backs take the field at Petco Park they will do so with all players wearing No. 42 as part of the celebration of Jackie Robinson Day across Major League Baseball.

Robinson broke baseball's color barrier on April 15, 1947.

Major League Baseball retired Robinson's No. 42 in 1997, and as a tribute all players wear No. 42 without a name on the back of the jersey each year on the anniversary of his Major League debut.

"He's my favorite player of all time so there's a certain specialness for me that everybody around the sport and everybody in the public that follows baseball gets to learn a little bit more about him each year," D-backs closer Brad Ziegler said. "To wear the No. 42 it's always just a great celebration."

Robinson was not Ziegler's favorite player growing up, but that changed as he began to do some more research on Robinson.

"What really stuck with me is the courage it took to do what he did," Ziegler said.

Ziegler, who collects baseball memorabilia, has a couple of Robinson autographs in his collection, but those are not his favorite Robinson-related items. That honor belongs to the autograph of another Robinson -- Rachel, Jackie's wife.

"My wife and I went and met her in New York a couple of years ago," Ziegler said. "And after that visit she mailed us a book about Jackie and wrote us a little note on the inside. That's pretty special."

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.