Wearing No. 42 never grows old for Hosmer

Royals first baseman feels same sense of honor every year

Wearing No. 42 never grows old for Hosmer

OAKLAND -- Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer has a vivid memory of the feelings he had after donning a Jackie Robinson jersey for the first time as part of Major League Baseball's annual tradition.

The Kansas City slugger still gets those same feelings now, five years after making his Major League debut.

"As a player it means so much to what we're all doing," Hosmer said while standing in front of his locker before the Royals opened the three-game series in Oakland. "It's done up right. It's a special day for a lot of people and we enjoy being a part of it."

Like the other 29 teams in the Majors, every Kansas City player and coach wore No. 42 Friday in honor of Robinson, who broke baseball's color barrier 69 years ago.

Robinson has ties to Kansas City. He spent one year 1945 with the Monarchs while playing in the Negro Leagues before eventually signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers and making his Major League debut on April 15, 1947.

"It's definitely a special day," Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain said. "He definitely got everything started for us. Me personally, I don't think I could have dealt with it. It's something that you've got to be strong-minded to deal personally to deal with all of that."

That, Hosmer says, is why the day means so much.

"It's all very special for us to get to wear that jersey number for one day because of how courageous Jackie was, not only what he did for the game but what he did for the world at that time," Hosmer said.

Michael Wagaman is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.