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Robinson's No. 42 'unretired' for day

Robinson's No. 42 'unretired' for day

NEW YORK -- By proclamation of the Commissioner for the second consecutive year, as Major League Baseball celebrates the anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking its color barrier, any big-league player can wear the late Hall of Famer's famous No. 42 in action when all 30 teams celebrate the occasion on Tuesday.

And both the Mets and Nationals have taken him to heart.

This year's 61st anniversary of the day Robinson put on a Brooklyn Dodgers uniform in a regular-season game for the first time, thus reintegrating Major League Baseball forever, is being hosted at Shea Stadium as the Nationals visit the Mets, whose manager, Willie Randolph, grew up in Brooklyn and has often said he's a great admirer of Robinson.

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"Last year, I was fortunate enough to wear No. 42," said Randolph, who was the lone Mets to wear the hallowed digits when baseball celebrated the 60th anniversary of Robinson's big day. "But [general manager] Omar [Minaya] and I were talking the other day, and this year, we felt it would be tremendous if the entire team could wear the number and feel the same sense of pride that I felt last year."

Since the Commissioner's decree, nine teams and 330 players, managers and coaches have said they will again don No. 42, including the Dodgers, Cardinals, A's, Angels, Pirates, Rangers and Rays, who will all join the Mets and Nats as having their full squads represent Robinson. Selig retired the number throughout baseball by decree in 1997 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary celebration. The Dodgers, Cards and Bucs all did the same thing last year when the signature event was at Dodger Stadium.

There's a full slate of games on Tuesday, so Robinson also will be honored in each of the 15 Major League ballparks. Shea is in its last season, to be replaced next year by adjacent Citi Field, where the Jackie Robinson Rotunda will replicate the famous entry to Ebbets Field. That's the tiny, long-gone ballpark one borough over from Queens where Robinson went out to play first base that day in 1947. The Dodgers defeated the Boston Braves and the grand old game was never the same.

Unretiring No. 42
More than 330 players and on-field staff members from all 30 teams plan to wear No. 42 on Jackie Robinson Day. Nine clubs will sport entire rosters wearing No. 42.
Team
Player
Arizona DiamondbacksEric Byrnes
Orlando Hudson
Lee Tinsley
Justin Upton
Chris Young
Atlanta BravesMark Kotsay
Baltimore OriolesAdam Jones
Boston Red SoxCoco Crisp
DeMarlo Hale
David Ortiz
Chicago CubsDerrek Lee
Gerald Perry
Lester Strode
Daryle Ward
Chicago White SoxHarold Baines
Jeff Cox
Jermaine Dye
Ozzie Guillen
Nick Swisher
Jim Thome
Cincinnati RedsDusty Baker
Ken Griffey Jr.
Cleveland IndiansC.C. Sabathia
Grady Sizemore
Colorado RockiesMatt Herges
Willy Taveras
Yorvit Torrealba
Detroit TigersCurtis Granderson
Jacque Jones
Lloyd McClendon
Gary Sheffield
Dontrelle Willis
Florida MarlinsBo Porter
Houston AstrosMichael Bourn
Cecil Cooper
Kansas City RoyalsJoey Gathright
Jose Guillen
Trey Hillman
Luis Silverio
Los Angeles AngelsEntire team
Los Angeles DodgersEntire team
Milwaukee BrewersPrince Fielder
Minnesota TwinsMatt Guerrier
Livan Hernandez
Craig Monroe
Denard Span
Jerry White
Delmon Young
New York MetsEntire team
New York YankeesRobinson Cano
Joe Girardi
Derek Jeter
*Mariano Rivera
Oakland AthleticsEntire team
Philadelphia PhilliesJimmy Rollins
Pittsburgh PiratesEntire team
San Diego PadresTony Clark
Callix Crabbe
Scott Hairston
San Francisco GiantsRay Durham
Seattle MarinersMiguel Batista
Adrian Beltre
Yuniesky Betancourt
Mike Morse
St. Louis CardinalsEntire team
Tampa Bay RaysEntire team
Texas RangersEntire team
Toronto Blue JaysShannon Stewart
Frank Thomas
Vernon Wells
Washington NationalsEntire team
* - Rivera is the last player to regularly wear No. 42 since Commissioner Selig retired the number throughout Major League Baseball on April 15, 1997.

Robinson retired in 1956, the Dodgers left for Los Angeles at the end of the 1957 season, and the wrecking ball took Ebbets Field not long thereafter. But the memories endure and Robinson's contributions are now celebrated on an annual basis.

Bob DuPuy, MLB's president and chief operating officer, will represent Selig at the festivities. Rachel Robinson, Jackie's seemingly ageless widow and the founder of the 35-year-old Jackie Robinson Foundation, which offers college scholarships to underprivileged minority students, will be there for the ceremony and a tour of the partially completed new ballpark that's targeted to open in time for the 2009 season. She'll be joined by her daughter, Sharon, the vice chair of the foundation's board.

Four Jackie Robinson Foundation scholars will accompany them on the field for a special recognition. One scholar also will have ceremonial first pitch honors.

BaseballChannel.TV will have a part in the evening, too.

From 6-7 p.m. ET, during the nightly WhipAround show, MLB.com's Harry Reynolds will report from the Shea Stadium field and the pregame ceremonies will be aired before the game begins.

And when teams take the field across the Major Leagues, many players, coaches and managers will run out there wearing the legendary No. 42.

Among them will be Ken Griffey Jr. of the Reds; LaTroy Hawkins and Robinson Cano of the Yankees; Grady Sizemore and left-hander C.C. Sabathia from the Indians; Joey Gathright, Luis Silverio and Jose Guillen from the Royals; Tony Clark, Callix Crabbe and Scott Hairston from the Padres; Ray Durham from the Giants; Daryle Ward and Derrek Lee, among others, from the Cubs, four players from the Mariners and six each from the Twins and Tigers.

Yankees closer extraordinaire Mariano Rivera is the last of the players who don the No. 42 on day-to-day basis. Rivera was grandfathered when Selig retired it 11 years ago. When Rivera retires there will be no more.

"It's hard to imagine what he went through," Rivera said about Robinson. "He couldn't fight back, but he would take it back on the field and play hard. The field was his territory. He played his game and fought his battles so people like me could have a job in the big leagues."

Aside from the nine managers on those full squads committed to wearing the number, add to that list managers Joe Girardi of the Yankees, Dusty Baker of the Reds and Trey Hillman of the Royals.

Robinson was simply issued No. 42 as a matter of course by equipment manager John Griffin upon his arrival in Brooklyn before the 1947 season. Robinson wasn't the first or the last player to wear the famous jersey for the Dodgers. In 1939, George Jeffcoat did so when he pitched in only one game. And long after Robinson retired in 1956, it was issued again to Ray Lamb, a pitcher from the University of Southern California. But Lamb was so uncomfortable wearing the number in 1969 that he gave it up when the season ended.

After that, it was never worn again by a Dodger and was retired by the club in 1972, a decade after Robinson was elected to the Hall of Fame.

The idea of "unretiring" Robinson's number last year belongs to Griffey, who personally petitioned the Commissioner for the opportunity.

"It's just my way of giving that man his due respect," Griffey said at the time. "I just called Bud and asked him if I could do it. He made a couple of phone calls and said, 'Yeah.' We had a good conversation. It was about me wearing it on that day, and only that day."

Selig liked the ambiance of it so much last year he considered it a no-brainer to do again this year. So get ready for all those No. 42s dancing across the Major League fields of America.

"I think it's great," he said. "Just their understanding of history and what that man did for so many people is so important. Believe me, it makes me very happy."

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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