'Robinson Day' Honors Legendary #42
Sixty years ago today, Jackie Robinson became the first African-American player to break into Major League Baseball when he played second base for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Today, MLB honored Robinson by having some players, and even some entire teams, wear Robinson's jersey number, 42. The number was retired by all of MLB by President Bill Clinton and Comissioner Bud Selig in 1997.
Ken Griffey, Jr., an African-American outfielder for the Cincinnati Reds, first presented the idea to Selig. After the comissioner approved the idea, other players decided to wear the number. The entire rosters of some teams, including the Los Angeles Dodgers, decided to wear the number as well.
"I've often said that baseball's most powerful moment in its really terrific history was Jackie Robinson's coming into baseball," Selig said at Dodger Stadium, according to a CBS Sportline report."It's an incredible story -- not just for baseball, but for society. Jackie was an American hero and the ultimate barrier-breaker. Threats to his life were commonplace. Yet Jackie took everything hate-mongers had to offer him. Not only is he a baseball Hall of Famer, he's a Hall of Famer for all-time."
One of the goals of Jackie Robinson day was to raise awreness about the lack of African-American players in baseball. According to a Detroit Free Press article, blacks make up only 8 percent of the league, down from 27 percent 20 years ago. Faster-paced sports like basketball have become more popular with black youth, and, according to some, MLB has neglected to focus marketing attention on inner-city areas.