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Baseball un-retires number 42

Pay no attention to the retired number behind the curtain


Retiring someone's number is a great honor. It's an explicit statement that no man is worthy of wearing those digits, and that they will forever hang unsullied by subsequent history in baseball's hallowed halls. Except when every player in baseball gets to wear it:

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.

I understand what they're trying to do, but I can't see how allowing several hundred dudes to wear that number will honor Robinson. In addition to it being a tacit admission that the whole retiring the number thing was inadequate as a tribute, many of those guys are going to get into fights, bark at umpires, lollygag to balls rattling around the corners, miss signs, and otherwise do things Jackie probably wouldn't do. I'd prefer some sort of pre-game ceremony and the distribution of some Jackie literature or something.

At this point, I think the only thing that will salvage this tribute in my mind is if the teams that don't wear names on the backs of their jerseys just keep sending up their two or three best hitters until someone notices.