LA Dodgers wearing number 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson last year against SF Giants. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Friday is the eighth annual Jackie Robinson Day throughout the Majors, marking the 64th anniversary of the day baseball's color barrier was broken. If only Robinson could see the respect now. MLB is commemorating this year's special day with the launch of the new IAM42.com online campaign, multiple events, and, once again, all players and on-field personnel wearing the No. 42. It is the same number Robinson wore for Brooklyn from 1947-56.
"Each year, Jackie Robinson Day is an occasion for us to pause and reflect on the game's proudest and most powerful moment," said Commissioner Bud Selig. "Jackie's legacy is as strong and vibrant as ever throughout Major League Baseball. I am proud that the No. 42, which has come to stand for Jackie's courage and grace, will again be worn in honor of our game's greatest pioneer."
"Jack loved the game of baseball and the tremendous power it had and still has to bring people together," said Rachel Robinson, Jackie's wife and founder of the Jackie Robinson Foundation. "I believe he would have found Major League Baseball's decision to perpetually honor his legacy in this way both gratifying and humbling."
At least two reasons why Jackie matters:
Whenever athletes accomplish anything great, the inspire others to do the same. Rickey's determination enabled Robinson's heroic career to happen. This prominent event serves as a example of what can be achieved in life. It also shows that perseverance, amidst great struggle, can result in great gains for all.
#1 Sports as a vehicle to promote civil rights
The color of team uniform is important because it distinguishes one side from another. The skin color of the players on any team does not create division within it.
Sports is a subtle, yet powerful, way to promote civil rights because it allow us all to see that greatness lies within all people. Anyone who learns about Jackie Robinson understands that his career helped to improve the game of baseball.
More importantly, his life and legacy have helped to transform society.
Just as importantly he is a Bruin.