42: Eddie Mata
Allowing every player in the league to wear number 42 is such an honor for everybody involved in baseball. Whether you're a player or fan, it reminds us all how difficult and heroic it was for the first African American Major League Baseball player to break the color barrier. Jackie Robinson opened the doors for other African American baseball players to play this wonderful game. Imagine Major League Baseball without Ken Griffey Jr., CC Sabathia, Brandon Phillips and Tony Gwynn. Just a drop of the many great African American players who have graced our fine sport with their superior play. We can thank Jackie for opening those doors and allowing all of these great players to have an opportunity to play in Major League Baseball. Current and future African American players need to always remember (not just on this special day) that if it wasn't for Jackie, their baseball careers and lives would have been much different. We all need to remember that, when Jackie broke the color barrier in 1947, he received death threats consistently. Most teams, players and fans didn't want him in the league. He battled everyday to survive not just on the baseball field, but in life in general. Since April 15, 1997, MLB has celebrated Jackie's defining baseball and moment and has retired his number in every Major League Baseball stadium. We as fans need to take the time to appreciate this great moment in baseball history and ensure that it continues to live on forever.
Thank you, Jackie Robinson. Thank you for helping to define our sport, culture and society as a whole. While our world isn't perfect, it is certainly a much better place today because of your contributions.