The San Diego Padres, like every other major league baseball team, retired the number 42.
No other major league player in the history of the game may wear that number again. In 1997, on the 5oth anniversary of breaking the baseball color barrier, MLB decided to honor Jackie Robinson by retiring his number on every single team.
Only major leaguers who currently wore the number could retain it. New York Yankees star closer, Mariano Rivera, was the last player to wear that number. His retirement after the 2013 season signified that, forever, the number would be dead to all potential players in the major leagues — a great tribute to a great man.
Robinson played ten years for the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1947 to 1956. He played in 1,382 games and stepped up to the plate 4,877 times. Robinson finished with a respectable batting line of .311/.409/.474 with 137 home runs and 734 runs batted in. He was a great major league ballplayer.
Robinson was the 1947 National League Rookie of the year and the 1949 National League MVP. That MVP year, he hit an astonishing .342 with 16 homers and 124 runs batted in 156 games for the Dodgers. A look at Robinson’s sabermetric numbers is impressive. Robinson put up WAR numbers of 9.6 (1949) and 9.7 (1951). That is an elite number. Robinson put up a total WAR of 61.5 in his ten years. That’s an average of 6.15 per season. Modern-day criteria view a six and a half win player as an elite all-star. Robinson indeed had a great career.
The six-time All-Star will always be remembered for the courage and determination he showed the world. If it wasn’t for him, then who knows where this great game of baseball would be. The game of baseball is a universal game, growing a following all over the world. If it were not for the efforts of the great Jackie Robinson, the game of baseball would have surely died long ago.
On this April 15th, we here at East Village Times remember the man and hope that his legacy lives on forever. The wisdom he showed was well beyond its time. The man was also a great ballplayer, and if not for the segregation, he could have had even better numbers. Robinson started in the major leagues at the age of 28. Can you imagine what he could have accomplished if he just started a little bit earlier?
Robinson passed away suddenly at the young age of 53, on October 24, 1972. He is survived by his wife, Rachel Robinson, whom he was married to for 27 years. They met while she and Jackie Robinson attended UCLA. Rachel Robinson formed the Jackie Robinson Foundation in 1973 and is active in support of significant causes. She has honored her husband by keeping his legacy in the public eye. We will always remember Jackie Robinson, and baseball will always love him. He possessed wisdom well beyond its time, and we only now are getting to appreciate the man.
Please think of the man today and all he accomplished for humanity. It goes way beyond the baseball diamond.