04/15/07 2:47 PM ET
Cards don No. 42 in honor of Robinson
Team celebrates 60th anniversary of legend's big-league debut
By Matthew Leach / MLB.com
As part of a Major League Baseball initiative, players throughout baseball were invited to wear 42. As individual Cardinals were approached, one after another voiced a desire to participate. That led to the entire team's involvement.
"We passed it on down to Tony [La Russa, manager] and the staff to see who was interested, and I don't know how it got started, but every player was adamant about wearing it," said Cards general manager Walt Jocketty. "They wanted to show their support and their appreciation for what Jackie Robinson meant to the game today."
The celebration in St. Louis featured a number of prominent figures. Sonya Pankey, Robinson's granddaughter, attended, as did Beth Louis, the granddaughter of Branch Rickey, and Johnny Sain's widow, Mary Ann Sain. Rickey was the man who signed Robinson to play for the Dodgers, while Sain was the first man to throw a pitch to Robinson in the Majors.
Introduced in 2004, Jackie Robinson Day was created to honor the enduring impact of Jackie Robinson and his legacy as the first African-American player to break the Major League color barrier. Robinson played his first Major League game at Ebbets Field on April 15, 1947, as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers.
In honor of the 50th anniversary of Robinson breaking the Major League color barrier in 1997, Robinson's uniform No. 42 was retired throughout the Major Leagues.
Robinson's memory lives on today in initiatives such as the Jackie Robinson Foundation, which was founded by Rachel Robinson in 1973 to provide education and leadership development opportunities for minority students with strong capabilities but limited financial resources, as well as Breaking Barriers, which utilizes baseball-themed activities to reinforce literacy skills, mathematics, science and social history while addressing critical issues of character development, such as conflict resolution and self-esteem.
"I see it as an honor to an American," Cardinals third baseman Scott Rolen said. "I don't look at it in baseball terms, necessarily. I think it's a guy who, as a person, as an American, did something great for this country -- that's what I see. That to me is honorable, and I wanted to be a part of it."
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.