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04/15/09 9:16 PM ET
Brewers join in Robinson celebration
All of Milwaukee's players, coaches don No. 42 in tribute
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers and the rest of Major League Baseball paid tribute to a social pioneer Wednesday when all players and coaches wore No. 42 to honor Jackie Robinson, who shattered baseball's color barrier on this date in 1947.
"When you have a team like ours, with a lot of African-Americans, everyone wants to wear it," said Brewers third baseman Bill Hall of Robinson's No. 42, which was retired throughout baseball in 1997. "I think it's great that everybody gets to wear it. It solves a lot of arguments in the clubhouse."
Last year, a group of players drew from a hat to determine who got the honor, and first baseman Prince Fielder won. In 2007, Fielder, Hall, Tony Gwynn, Jr. and Rickie Weeks all wore No. 42 for a loss to Braden Looper and the Cardinals in St. Louis. Their jerseys from that game are displayed on the field-level concourse at Miller Park between home plate and first base.
Looper, incidentally, started for the Brewers on Wednesday night against the Reds. Along with the eight other Brewers who took the field, he had No. 42 on his back.
"I'm glad that Major League Baseball is really putting forth the effort to honor Jackie and what he did," Hall said. "He gave us an opportunity to be here right now."
Fans who passed through the turnstiles at Miller Park on Wednesday before Looper's first pitch took part in the festivities. Public-address announcer Robb Edwards cited Robinson's debut as "a monumental moment for baseball and for civil rights" in his introduction to a video tribute. The Brewers then honored Marquette University freshmen Marlo Rodriguez, a chemistry and engineering major and one of 279 current Jackie Robinson Foundation scholarship winners in 34 states.
Last year, MLB made a major $1.2 million commitment to the Jackie Robinson Foundation over a four-year period to fund scholarships in the name of each of the 30 clubs. Rodriguez received $10,000 for her education.
"It's a cool day," said Brewers center fielder Mike Cameron, who has been a part of the festivities honoring Robinson from the start.
He was with the New York Mets in 2004, and escorted Robinson's daughter, Sharon, onto the field at Shea Stadium for a ceremony in which Commissioner Bud Selig declared the first Jackie Robinson Day. In 2007, Cameron was honored to be the only San Diego Padres player wearing No. 42.
"It's a special thing to wear the number," Cameron said.
Brewers manager Ken Macha was proud to wear it, too.
"The national pastime should be proud of its evolution, the way all cultures have been included in this game," Macha said. "We've got Japanese players, Korean players, people from all over the world. We've got the World Baseball Classic. Everybody is interested in baseball.
"It's nice when you can say you're in an industry that's all-inclusive, to celebrate the fact that [Robinson's Major League debut] was an 'Opening Day,' so to speak, of that type of treatment of everybody in the world. That's a good thing."