After the Arizona Diamondbacks retired the number of Luis Gonzalez, I began receiving a lot of questions from fans visiting Chase Field asking who wore number 42 for the Diamondbacks and who it is hanging next to Gonzo’s number.
On the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the major-league color barrier, Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig retired the number 42 throughout baseball. From that point forward no player could wear number 42 although players wearing that number at the time were allowed to continue wearing it until retirement. This occurred on April 15, 1997, nearly a year before the Arizona Diamondbacks would play their first game as a franchise.
As such, no player in the history of the Arizona Diamondbacks has ever worn number 42. For years the Diamondbacks recognized this with a small baseball shaped sign hanging above right center field near the Miller Diamond Club sign.
On April 24th of this year the Diamondbacks removed the Jackie Robinson sign from where it had been hanging and replaced it with a large white and blue number adorning the façade above the party suites in right field.
This was done to bring consistency to the retired numbers in Chase Field. Number 42 was the only number listed until number 20 was added on August 7th for Luis Gonzalez. It is expected that the next number to be retired will be number 51 for Randy Johnson. No time table has been identified for this to occur but it is expected to be before 2015 when Johnson is eligible for the Hall of Fame induction.
So the number 42 hangs from the rafters like it does in every stadium throughout Major League Baseball as a tribute to the accomplishments of Jackie Robinson and will be the one number that is retired without anyone wearing it in franchise history.
Now you can impress your friends and guests at the next game by giving them the background of each of the two numbers that have been retired in Diamondbacks history and what they represent.