It was 63 years ago that Jackie Robinson suited up for the Brooklyn Dodgers and broke baseball's color barrier. Major League Baseball honored Robinson yesterday by having all of its players suit up in Robinson's No. 42. But the Baltimore Orioles decided to pay their own unique tribute to the American legend.
"We were all getting dressed before the game, putting on our No. 42 jerseys, and it just didn't feel right. I knew I had to stop it," said Orioles outfielder Adam Jones. "As an African-American, as someone who looks up to Jackie Robinson, I knew he deserved better than having his number worn by the Baltimore Orioles."
Jones asked his teammates to change back into their regular jerseys out of respect for Robinson, and they eagerly complied.
"I am hitting .222," said Baltimore third baseman Garrett Atkins. "I hit .226 last year. It actually felt kind of racist to have Mr. Robinson's jersey number on, like: 'You may have accomplished all of this in your career and in your life, but you're still stuck on Garrett Atkins' back.' He deserves better than that."
With their regular jerseys back on, the Orioles went out and quickly showed they made the right decision, falling behind 5-0 to the A's on the way to a 6-2 loss their ninth in 10 games this season.
"If Jackie Robinson was up there in heaven watching this game, I'd like to think we made him happy," said Jones. "Although I truly hope someone like Jackie Robinson has better things to do in heaven than watch Baltimore Orioles games."
Commissioner Bud Selig said next year's Robinson tribute would be expanded to also ban the Nationals, Royals and Pirates from wearing No. 42.
"It would be great if they also didn't wear the Major League Baseball logo on their uniforms," he said. "But we'll take this stuff one at a time."