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Entire Pittsburgh Pirates Team to Wear #42 on Sunday
Some might call it acting in lock-step, some might call it a grand and fitting tribute to an American hero. Today the Pittsburgh Pirates announced that every one of their players will don Jackie Robinson's number 42 on their jerseys on Sunday, the 60th anniversary of the day Robinson broke the color barrier in major league baseball.
In an unprecedented move, the number was retired from all MLB teams ten years ago, only being allowed to be used by players who had the number prior to 1997. The only active player still protected under that grandfather clause is Yankees closer Mariano Rivera.
When Ken Griffey Jr. asked the commissioner if he could wear the number to celebrate Robinson this year, he added that he thought it would be a good idea for other players to wear the number on April 15th. Baseball agreed with Junior and not only have major stars around the league like Barry Bonds, Gary Sheffield, and Derrek Lee accepted MLB's invitation to wear the number, but most say they are honored.
The Dodgers took it one step further and said that every player on their 25-man roster would sport the number. The Pirates are now the second team to pay tribute to Jackie Robinson in such a way.
Pittsburgh is no slouch in terms of supporting blacks in baseball, not only did the 1971 Pirates take the field with the first all-black lineup (if you consider Roberto Clemente and Manny Sanguillen "black"), but negro league teams like the Pittsburgh Crawfords and the Homestead Greys had some of the best teams in baseball.
The Angels, home of the only player to decline to pay respect to Robinson by wearing his number, announced that Gary Matthews Jr. will be allowed to wear #42 on Sunday. Although Matthews gladly accepted the invitation, the Angels thought it was a good idea to ask permission first from the league for their player who is involved in a Human Growth Hormone scandal. Permission has been granted.