Rollins values annual donning of No. 42

Veteran shortstop: Important to remember Jackie's legacy every year

Rollins values annual donning of No. 42

ST. PETERSBURG -- Veteran White Sox shortstop Jimmy Rollins has valued wearing the No. 42 jersey each year on Jackie Robinson Day throughout his accomplished, 17-year career. He views it as an experience that honors a tale worth telling time and time again.

"There are fewer of those stories around," Rollins said. "Here's at least one day that the story of Jackie Robinson gets to be told. Actually, it lasts about a week building up to it. Just the casual baseball fan watching the game notices everybody is wearing No. 42."

Friday was Jackie Robinson Day throughout MLB, and like players at ballparks around the country, those from the White Sox and Rays wore No. 42 at Tropicana Field in Chicago's 1-0 win to commemorate the 69th anniversary of Robinson breaking baseball's color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

To Rollins, his most memorable experience wearing that venerable jersey number happened last year with Los Angeles. The moment's significance didn't escape him.

"I've put it on for a long time now, and I'd have to say my favorite '42' moment was last year, playing for the Dodgers in the same organization that Jackie broke the barrier with," Rollins said. "Though it's not Jackie Robinson's '42' jersey, it's still Jackie Robinson's '42.' No one gets to wear that ever again because of what he did for the game. That number deserves to be retired."

What would Rollins' advice be to future players seeking to understand Robinson's legacy?

"Just know the history of Jackie Robinson the baseball player but also Jackie Robinson the civil rights leader," Rollins said. "His life didn't end in baseball. It may have started in baseball as far as everyone else getting to know Jackie, but it didn't end there. ... Just learn the history. Be interested."

That's a lesson worth reliving, with a name worth remembering at the center of it all.

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