04/11/08 10:05 PM ET
Six White Sox to wear No. 42
Group eager to honor legendary Jackie Robinson
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
"It's an honor any time a legend like that can be a part of something that is so special," said White Sox designated hitter Jim Thome, who will wear No. 42, along with Jermaine Dye, Nick Swisher, Guillen, first-base coach Harold Baines and third-base coach Jeff Cox. "It's just a pleasure.
"I never, personally, got to watch him play. But just what he stands for in this game is something that should make every player want to wear this [uniform]."
Robinson became the game's first African-American player in 1947, with his first appearance coming for the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field on April 15. At the 50-year anniversary in 1997, Major League Baseball retired the No. 42 but still gave players the chance to wear the uniform on this special day.
White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, a Brooklyn native, was at Robinson's first game. Reinsdorf admitted he didn't know what Robinson was going through at the time until after he retired, pointing out that he simply was more interested in if Robinson could play as a young but true Dodgers fan.
Introduced in 2004, Jackie Robinson Day was created to honor the enduring impact of Robinson and his legacy as the first African-American player to break the Major League Baseball color barrier.
Robinson's memory lives on today in initiatives such as the Jackie Robinson Foundation, which was founded by Rachel Robinson in 1973 to provide education and leadership development opportunities for minority students with strong capabilities but limited financial resources, as well as Breaking Barriers, which utilizes baseball-themed activities to reinforce literacy skills, mathematics, science and social history in addition to addressing critical issues of character development, such as conflict resolution and self-esteem.
His historic impact on the game will be recognized around baseball on Tuesday, including at U.S. Cellular Field.
"There's no question he set the bar for a lot of African-American players today," Thome said.
"Awesome -- real special for everyone," Guillen added. "He went through a lot of difficulties to make this game better. The best thing is to remember him every year."
"He's given African-American players a chance to play in the Major Leagues," Dye concluded. "He paved the way for us. What a way to pay tribute to a guy who has done a lot for this sport."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.