why does mariano rivera wear number 42

The upshot is that Reggie's number 9 that he had worn in Oakland and Baltimore was already being worn by third baseman Graig NettlesБhence the need for a new number. Speculation has centered around manager Billy Martin wanting 42 for his pitching coach (and long-time drinking buddy) Art Fowler, but Fowler didn't join the Yankees until the middle of August of that yearБFowler did take number 42 when did get there. Whatever his reason for not taking the then-available 42, Jackson chose 20 as his number in honor of Frank Robinson. He wore 20 for a very short while in Spring Training, then switched to 44 (in tribute to the just-retired home run king, Hank Aaron. )
Jackson's number 44 was retired by the Yankees on August 14, 1993. Imagine if he would have gone on to wear the 42 that was presented to him at his introductory press conference? Mariano Rivera made his Major League debut less than two years later; he then would have been wearing something other than the number 42 with which he is so closely associated.


In an odd way, Rivera's 42 is connected to four Hall of FamersБJackie Robinson, Reggie Jackson, Frank Robinson, and Hank Aaron. He will be joining them in Cooperstown in 2019. When Mariano Rivera got to the Major Leagues, he didn't ask for Jackie Robinson's iconic No. 42 as his uniform number. In fact, he didn't ask for any specific uniform number at all. "They just assigned it [42] to me," Rivera told the gaggle of reporters crowded around his locker in the Yankees' clubhouse before Thursday's game. "I was number 58 when I came up. " In the decade-plus that he has been a Yankee, Rivera has come to learn about the number that has been on his back since his Major League debut in 1995.


And the more Rivera learns, the more proud he is of the history it represents. "I'm honored to wear it," Rivera said. "It's wonderful. " With all of Major League Baseball recognizing Robinson for his breaking of the color barrier on April 15, 1947, the No. 42 was out in force in the clubhouses of both the Yankees and Angels. Jackie Robinson Day is now in its sixth year, and for players like Rivera, as well as fellow Yankees Marcus Thames and Curtis Granderson, the celebration of Robinson hasn't lost any of its significance or importance. "I love that number," Thames said. "I know it's not mine, but it feels like I'm representing him and his family. It makes me really happy that Major League Baseball does this. " "It's definitely an honor and a privilege to get a chance to be a part of what he was able to allow me to do," Granderson added. "Without him, who knows if I get a chance to have this opportunity to be out there, not only playing but also representing what he's been able to do and accomplish. " To mark the special occasion, the Robinson family -- Jackie's wife Rachel, his daughter Sharon and his grandson Jesse Simms -- took part in a pregame ceremony honoring Robinson and his legacy.


Simms also threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Robinson is remembered in baseball history for being one of the best second basemen ever to play the game, as well as being a tenacious, tough-nosed player who would do anything to win. But what stood out to the players who will wear Robinson's number on the field and in the dugout is the adversity that Robinson had to overcome during his career. "What he went through and what he did, I don't think I would've done it," Rivera said. "He was willing to do it and he paid a high price, but he got it done.


He opened the door for a lot of us. " "I think it's really important to keep his legacy alive, because of what he did for the game of baseball, but probably more important for our country, crossing that barrier, doing it with such grace and how difficult it was for him," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Today is a big day for the game of baseball because of what Jackie accomplished and what he did for our society. " When Mariano Rivera was a boy in Panama, he always wanted to wear No. 5. Whether playing baseball, football or soccer, Rivera asked for that number. He didn't get to be No. 5 when he got to New York, but that doesn't bother him now. He wouldn't trade No. 42 for anything. "Being the last one to use number 42 is tremendous," he said. "I'm really, really proud and thankful to wear number 42. "

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