Once a year, baseball allows players to wear the No. 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson, who wore that number in his trailblazing career integrating baseball.
That day is tonight when the A’s and the Houston Astros will all be wearing 42.
For black players in particular and most baseball people in general, it’s a special honor, a day full of significance.
“It’s hard to say just how big a deal this is,’’ A’s outfielder Chris Young said. “He’s made it possible for guys of all different races to be able to play this game we all love. What he did expanded to other sports, too.
“It an honor to wear his number, even if it’s hard to truly express what he’s meant. He made it possible for me to be here wearing 42 tonight.’’
Michael Taylor wore 42 on a traveling league one summer in high school, and said that “it was cool to wear Jackie Robinson’s number,’’ but on Monday he was wearing it and in the A’s starting lineup.
“I have to say I cherish the idea that I’m getting to wear Jackie’s number when I’m starting in a Major League game,’’ Taylor said. “It’s a huge deal, because he made it possible for me to do what I love to do.’’
Center fielder Coco Crisp said he saw the new Robinson biopic “42’’ Saturday, and that ratcheted up his appreciation for what Robinson did when he debuted with the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947, 66 seasons ago and through his 10-year Hall of Fame career.
“Over the years I’d heard stories about Jackie Robinson,’’ Crisp said, “learning what he and other players had to go through so that we can be here tonight. I had the most respect for him.
“After seeing the movie, seeing some of what he had to go through, my appreciation has even gone up. What he did to keep it all together for everybody can’t be understated.’’
A’s manager Bob Melvin said wearing the 42 fills him with a lot of pride.
“This is a guy who not just helped black players, but who helped all players,’’ Melvin said. “What a tough thing it was he did. We’ve all been impacted by what he did. Just look around – everybody knows who Jackie Robinson is.’’