April 13, 2008
In 2007, Ken Griffey Jr. asked permission to wear No. 42 on the annual Jackie Robinson Day. Commissioner Bud Selig loved the idea and invited other players to join in. On some clubs, one player wore No. 42. On other clubs, several players did. On still others, every player did.
This is what Los Angeles Angels outfield Torii Hunter said, to USA Today: "This is supposed to be an honor, and just a handful of guys wearing the number. Now you've got entire teams doing it. I think we're killing the meaning. It should be special wearing Jackie's number, not just because it looks cool."
What upset Hunter, he says now, was this: The Houston Astros had no black players on their team last April, and yet the entire team wore No. 42. Said Hunter: "That got it away from, 'OK, we don't have any blacks,' " he said. To Hunter, a roster with no black players did not represent the progress for which Robinson stood, and baseball celebrated according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.