Every year sees an April 15, and on April 15 everyone in baseball sees No. 42. On a day many scurry to complete tax return filing, countless take a moment, take a day, to honor the man who revolutionized the game of baseball in America: Jack Roosevelt "Jackie" Robinson.
It was April 15, 1947, when he rose from the dugout to the call of his name as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers. He led the march to end racial segregation in professional baseball, a segregation that mandated African-American players to participate only in the Negro Leagues for six previous decades.
Jackie Robinson won the 1947 Rookie of the Year Award, earned the 1949 National League MVP Award, was a six-time All-Star, playing in the Midsummer Classic in 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, and 1954. He played in six World Series and won a World Championship with Brooklyn in 1955.
Robinson finished with the Dodgers in 1956 with a .311 career batting average, more than 1,500 hits and 17 home runs. He would eventually be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962 by 77.5 percent of voters in his first year of induction eligibility. It would not be until 1997 that Major League Baseball retired his No. 42 across all teams. A handful of players who wore No. 42 at the time the number was retired were permitted to continue wearing the number per the grandfather clause. At present, Yankees closer and anticipated future first-ballot Hall-of-Famer Mariano Rivera is the lone man still playing from that initial handful.
Only on April 15 are other players welcome to wear No. 42 in commemmoration of Jackie Robinson Day, a tradition that can be traced back to Ken Griffey Jr., who asked permission of Rachel Robinson to wear No. 42 to honor the 60th anniversary of Jackie breaking the color barrier in 1947. Commissioner Bud Selig invited others to take part in the commemorration. Less than 25 percent of the 30 major league teams did participate in the first year, however more joined the following year in 2008, and in 2009, all uniformed personnel including players, coaches, managers, and umpires debuted No. 42 on their uniforms.
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