04/15/07 5:48 PM ET
Andruw puts on No. 42 with pride
Veteran outfielder honors Robinson's memory in Atlanta
By Jon Cooper / Special to MLB.com
But that doesn't mean he doesn't recognize the significance of what Robinson did 60 years ago today and the impact the former Brooklyn Dodgers Hall of Fame second baseman had, not only on baseball, but on American history and society. So when the opportunity came to honor Robinson by wearing his No. 42, Jones jumped at it.
"I really don't know much about Jackie Robinson, but I know what he did for me to be here," said Jones. "That's why I'm honoring him today and give a special honor to him and his family for breaking the color barrier. I'm glad that I didn't grow up in that atmosphere and times that [Robinson did] because I know how tough that was. I'm just happy I'm here right now and most of that stuff is behind. I appreciate all he did to make all this happen.
"It's special," he added. "I was here when the Commissioner retired the number and nobody can wear it. It's a good thing to wear it and give an honor to him and his family."
On April 4, shortly after Cincinnati Reds outfielder Ken Griffey, Jr. petitioned Commissioner Bud Seilg to wear the No. 42, Commissioner Selig temporarily lifted the retirement and allowed selected players on each team to don the number for this special Sunday.
Jones smiled when asked about being introduced as number No. 42, as opposed to his traditional number, No. 25.
"It's going to be a different feeling but it's going to be fun," he said. "I hope they raise a lot of money for the foundation and we come up with a victory."
Jones celebrated the day by blasting his third homer of the season in the fifth inning off Florida reliever Rick Vanden Hurk.
The jersey that Jones wore on Sunday will be auctioned off on MLB.com, with the proceeds going to the Jackie Robinson Foundation.
The good works of the foundation were on display prior to the Sunday afternoon game between the Braves and Florida Marlins, as seven Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholars were honored, including Mauri Robinson, who threw out the first pitch.
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.
Jon Cooper is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.