Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano and Joe Girardi wore number 42 yesterday and so did every Tampa Bay Ray. It was Jackie Robinson Day – the 61st anniversary of Robinson showing America and world the possibilities of just society – and all of baseball paid tribute.
Mariano Rivera – the last number 42 – finished the game and said he was “honored and deeply humbled to wear it every day for Jackie Robinson.”
No one will wear 42 after Rivera because Major League Baseball retired it throughout the game in 1997. It was a nice gesture toward Robinson, who was as honorable as any man and stood up for everyone.
But honoring Robinson is only part of our responsibility. Continuing his quest for justice is the most important part. He fought the good fight – the best fight any man has ever fought – until the very end because he knew it was far from won.
It’s still far from won and there are some that worry about the day when Rivera takes off the 42 and it permanently goes under museum glass. Years from now, will people only remember Robinson for a day or two like we increasing do with Martin Luther King?
We should always carry 42 on our backs and our sleeves and in our hearts. It should be carried by Major Leaguers and Minor Leaguers and Little Leaguers. It will always be carried by kids in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic and Venezuela and Harlem and Highbridge and Washington Heights who write 42 on their T-shirts and dance off third and steal home.
Hundreds of players wore 42 yesterday. One will wear it today. We should all wear it every day and continue Robinson’s quest for justice.
Now that would be an honor.