Today is a big day for Major League Baseball and, really, for all of sports. Every April 15 is Jackie Robinson Day as we honor the first African-American player to play Major League Baseball when he suited up for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.
As a player, I've always cherished Jackie Robinson Day. I wear my pant legs high and show my socks in tribute to the Negro Leagues players. I'm also humbled whenever I get a chance each year to wear the 42 jersey, but I think it will hold even more significance for me this year since I'm going to be playing just a few miles from where he played at Ebbets Field.
Jackie Robinson opened so many doors for players of all races to be included in the main professional sports leagues. He endured countless death threats and had to get through many sleepless nights so a player such as myself would have an opportunity to play professional baseball. I wish he was alive for me to be able to thank him today, but that's why it is important for all of us to wear number 42 on April 15.
This way every MLB
player can say thank you.
One of my new teammates, legendary closer Mariano Rivera(notes), still wears No. 42. He had the jersey number before it was retired and was allowed to keep it after the league retired it in 1997. I always hated facing him with Detroit, and I've now had a couple of opportunities to watch him work his magic while I'm playing in center field for New York. It's amazing how he still dominates, and I can think of no one more deserving to wear Jackie's number every day.
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Curtis Granderson plays for the New York Yankees and his blog will appear regularly on Yahoo! Sports' Big League Stew during the 2010 season. Make sure to check out and support his Grand Kids Foundation.
Read his previous posts here.