MILWAUKEE -- For the sixth consecutive year, players and uniformed personnel for every Major League team playing on Tuesday swapped their chosen numbers to wear the one once donned by the man who broke baseball's color barrier. For one night, everyone was No. 42.
Jackie Robinson's legacy was celebrated across the country on Tuesday, the 67th anniversary of the date Robinson first took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers. MLB unilaterally retired No. 42 in 1997, and with Mariano Rivera's career over, no active player regularly wears the number. Each April 15, MLB highlights Robinson's legacy. His is the only number retired by all 30 clubs.
"I think Jackie Robinson Day is a real special day for all of baseball," said center fielder Jon Jay, who is Cuban-American. "He broke the color barrier, for Latin players, for all sorts of different players. As a Latin player I think it's something that's big where he really paved the way for us, and we owe a lot to him. If it wasn't for him, a lot of us wouldn't be playing in the Major Leagues right now."
Twenty-seven players in Cardinals history, including Bruce Sutter, Curt Flood and Harvey Haddix, wore No. 42 before it was retired by MLB. Jose Oliva, in 1995, was the club's last player to wear the number, which has also since been retired for the Hall of Famer Sutter.
The Cardinals do not have an African-American player on their Major League roster but do have a roster dotted with Latin American players who have benefited from Robinson's diversification of the sport.
Jackie Robinson Day jeweled bases and lineup cards were used in Tuesday night's game between St. Louis and Milwaukee.
"It is definitely a special day not only for the Dodgers but around Major League Baseball," said Mark Ellis, who spent the past two seasons playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers. "It's an honor to wear that number, and I think Major League Baseball did the right thing a couple years ago by retiring the number of somebody who has changed the sport forever. Even though I'm not a minority, I'm still very proud to wear that number not only because of what he did for baseball, but what he did for history."