Monday, April 16, 2012

Here's to You Mr. Robinson

Sixty-five years ago yesterday Jackie Robinson became the first African-American to play in a Major League baseball game. Robinson was a twenty-eight year-old rookie when he played his first game as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers. All big league teams honored Robinson's memory yesterday by having their players wear his number 42.

Major League Baseball has retired Robinson's number. Any big-league player who was already wearing it when MLB announced its decision was permitted to continue to wear it. Thus, any player currently wearing it shall be the final member of his team ever to do so.

I have no idea who wears Robinson's number for any other Major League team. It has been worn with class and dignity for the Yankees by Mariano Rivera since the mid-1990's. When Mo ran onto the field at the Stadium to be introduced before the Yankees home opener, it may very well have been his final home opener. Mo has been typically circumspect in sharing details of his plans for beyond this season. It would not be entirely surprising to see 2012 be his last one in Pinstripes.

It is fitting it seems to me - whether 2012 or some other year altogether is Rivera's final year as a Yankee - that Mo shall be the last Yankee ever to wear Robinson's number. Even though Rivera was less than three years old when Robinson died in October 1972, I reckon what had Robinson lived long enough to have seen Mo pitch and the way in which he plays the game, knowing that Rivera wears his number would have pleased him immensely.


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