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04/15/08 7:24 PM EST
McLaren proud to wear No. 42
Manager respects impact of Robinson on game, society
By Bob Sherwin / Special to MLB.com
SEATTLE -- Mariners manager John McLaren, who has studied and appreciates the history of the game, decided to wear No. 42 Tuesday in honor of Jackie Robinson.
Robinson, the first black player to play in the Major Leagues in 1947, was remembered throughout baseball Tuesday for breaking the color barrier. Mariners pitcher Miguel Batista, shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt, third baseman Adrian Beltre, reliever Arthur Rhodes and right fielder Mike Morse, who is on the disabled list, also wore Robinson's number.
"I wear it out of respect and what's he done for our game," said McLaren, on his decision. "He has probably had a bigger impact than anyone in the game, not only from a baseball standpoint, just all the way around -- what he endured, what he went through."
When McLaren was the bench coach under Lou Piniella with the Rays, veteran coach Don Zimmer was on the staff. Zimmer goes back to Robinson's time and McLaren enjoyed hearing stories from that era.
"Just hearing Don Zimmer talk about him, he was a very special person," McLaren. "He used to say, 'You and I couldn't have done it.' The things [Robinson] went through, no one should have gone through. It's a great day for baseball."
McLaren added that by having an annual day to honor Robinson's legacy, it provides an awareness of his achievement. There are some players who arrive in the big leagues every year without an understanding of who paved the way for them.
"How he has changed the game," McLaren said, "I don't know how anybody hasn't heard of Jackie Robinson. He's left such an impact, not just on baseball but on society.
"One thing that is a little lacking is not knowing the history of the game, not appreciating it. I think older players and especially older scouts, people who have been in the game a long time, they all have a story. I enjoy listening to them because I think we all need to know where our game's come from and where it is today. I'd like to see our young kids pay attention to where our game's come from."