This Jackie Robinson tribute thing is turning into quite a phenomenon. At first it looked like one player per team would be wearing No. 42, except for the Dodgers, who planned to have everyone wearing 42. But now two other teams have joined the Dodgers — the Cardinals and Pirates (last item on the page) — and several other teams will have multiple 42ers, including the Cubs (Jacque Jones, Daryle Ward, and Cliff Floyd, plus Derrek Lee, who had previously been announced), A’s (Milton Bradley, Shannon Stewart, and coach Tye Waller), Twins (Torii Hunter, Rondell White, and coach Jerry White), Royals (Reggie Sanders and Emil Brown), Tigers (Gary Sheffield, Curtis Granderson, Craig Monroe, Marcus Thames, and coach Lloyd McClendon), and Blue Jays (Vernon Wells, Frank Thomas, Royce Clayton, and coach Mickey Brantley). And although it hasn’t officially been announced yet, it’s a safe bet that the Yankees will have at least two 42ers: Mariano Rivera (duh) and Robinson Cano, the latter of whom is actually named after Jackie Robinson and normally wears No. 24 — the reverse of 42.
Other forty-deucers announced in recent days include Andruw Jones, Carl Crawford, Corey Patterson, Bill Hall, Orlando Hudson, Carlos Lee, LaTroy Hawkins, Jermaine Dye (second news item on the page), and Rangers skipper Ron Washington. To my knowledge, each of these players is his team’s lone 42er, at least for now.
When you toss in the other 42ers who’d been previously been announced (Ken Griffey, Barry Bonds, Mike Cameron, Willie Randolph, Coco Crisp, Dontrelle Willis, Gary Matthews Jr., Jimmy Rollins, Josh Barfield, C.C. Sabathia, and Dmitri Young), that means the only teams that haven’t yet announced a 42er for this Sunday are the Yankees and the Mariners (who’ve presumably been too busy making snow angels in Cleveland to deal with this Sunday’s festivities). If either of those teams has announced a 42er and I’ve missed it, or if there’s some other team I’ve overlooked, speak up.
Meanwhile, Lawrence Kuhnast notes that when Jackie Robinson made his Dodgers debut 60 years ago, he was wearing a zip-front jersey (additional views here and here), while his teammates were wearing button-fronts (additional view here). According to Dressed to the Nines, the Dodgers wore zip-fronts in 1946 and button-fronts in ’47, so it appears that Robbie was given an old jersey to begin his career.
And Bob Timmermann has done a bit of a research to clarify the Marc Sagmoen situation. According to an item that appeared on April 16th, 1997, in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, “Sagmoen wore No. 42 in the [April 15th] game, his uniform number in spring training. Midway through the game, Sagmoen learned that acting commissioner Bud Selig had declared in New York that No. 42 will be retired throughout baseball in honor of Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson.” A subsequent item in the April 20th edition of the Salt Lake Tribune noted, “Among that group [of players already wearing 42], only Sagmoen changed numbers immediately. He wasn’t exactly attached to 42, having been issued it only on Monday, when he was recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City. … ‘I just didn’t think it would be right,’ said Sagmoen, who switched to 37. ‘I thought it would be better to retire it now. It was nice to wear it for one game, but I wouldn’t have felt right to wear it every game.’ ” So it looks like Sagmoen wore 42 only on April 15th — the same day Selig’s ruling came down — but not thereafter.
Incidentally, that Salt Lake Tribune article had an interesting quote from Scott Karl, who was wearing No. 42 for the Brewers at the time:
Karl, who like Sagmoen is white, believes he is entitled to the number he has worn throughout his career.
“I hope this will not become an issue, but I don’t want to give it up,” Karl said. “It’s my number. It’s not a number that was given to me randomly. I chose to wear the number and it has been a part of my life since I got to the big leagues [in 1995]. [Also], I feel I have a chance to be a part of something special.”
Unfortunately for Karl, in 2000 he was traded to the Rockies, where team owner Jerry McMorris insisted on keeping No. 42 out of circulation. Karl himself was out of circulation a year after that.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Shawn Green’s superscript “Y” was finally fixed on Friday. … Speaking of superscript letters, Cliff Floyd’s helmet appliqué was riding a bit high the other day. … Citadel played a serious throwback game against College of Charleston last Thursday. How serious? The umpires wore suspenders and straw hats! … Brandon Garrett notes that home plate ump Hunter Wendelstedt appeared to have the remnants of a football helmet sticker on his chest protector during Friday’s Mets/Braves game. … Wanna look like this guy? Look here. … Johnny Estrada usually wears stirrups with very little white showing. But for Friday’s game, with the Brewers wearing their ’80s retro uniforms, his hosiery was period-appropriate. … Fascinating article here about a California Little League operation that got into trouble by outfitting its teams in college-style uniforms instead of pro-style. … Over in Japan, Greg LaRocca’s using personalized batting gloves (as spotted by Jeremy Brahm). … Kei Igawa was doing the blind man on the mound routine again on Saturday. … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: Interesting bit here about Kelvim Escobar and the Angels’ new red jerseys. … Quite a few readers are intrigued by the shoes Dontrelle Willis wore on Saturday. Anyone know more about them? … Jose Cruz Jr.’s MVP-caliber stirrups were back on Sunday (with thanks to Richard Craig, who also notes that the Padres will be wearing 1973 throwbacks on May 11th).