Well, it's now completely official: Major League Baseball has co-opted Jackie Robinson ...
- By request of Commissioner Bud Selig, as Major League Baseball celebrates the 62nd anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking its color barrier on Wednesday, all big league players and uniformed personnel have been asked to wear the late Hall of Famer's famous No. 42 on the field when the 30 teams celebrate the occasion.
The past two years, as the momentum to wear Robinson's number steamrolled through Major League clubhouses, Selig asked, but the act of wearing it was voluntary. Not so this year.
"April 15, 1947, is a day that resonates with history throughout Major League Baseball," Selig said. "With all Major League players, coaches and umpires wearing Jackie's No. 42, we hope to demonstrate the magnitude of his impact on the game of baseball. Major League Baseball will never forget the contributions that Jackie made both on and off the field."
The idea of "un-retiring" Robinson's number for a day belongs to Ken Griffey Jr., who is back with the Mariners this season. Two years ago, Griffey personally petitioned the Commissioner for the opportunity to wear it. He didn't know what he was starting.
"It's just my way of giving that man his due respect," Griffey said at the time. "I just called Bud and asked him if I could do it. He made a couple of phone calls and said, 'Yeah.' We had a good conversation. It was about me wearing it on that day, and only that day."
Selig enjoyed the feel of it so much he now wants to blanket big league fields with all those No. 42s dancing across America.
"I think it's great," the Commissioner said. "Just their understanding of history and what that man did for so many people is so important. Believe me, it makes me very happy."
Never underestimate the ability of the commissioner to take a pretty sweet idea and just drive it into the ground until it's dead.
Maybe that's too harsh. But every single player in every single game, wearing the same number?
You know what really bothers me about all this? Major League Baseball is apparently bound and determined to turn Jackie Robinson from a man -- a man with all his glorious virtues and oh-so-human flaws -- into some sort of god, and gods are incredibly less interesting than men. Gods are infallible. Or if they're not, it's still considered poor form to discuss their fallibility. Which makes us all the poorer.