Durham dons No. 42 for Robinson Day
Giants second baseman given the honor by teammates
SAN FRANCISCO -- Tuesday afternoon's pregame video tribute to Jackie Robinson on AT&T Park's enormous Diamond Vision screen lasted only a few minutes.But the day's meaning will endure for a long time in the memories and souls of the Giants and Arizona Diamondbacks players who wore Robinson's No. 42 in tribute to baseball's peerless pioneer. "It is an honor to wear his number," Giants second baseman Ray Durham said. "He meant so much to a lot of players, not only black players. He's created opportunities for other players, not only our sport, but other sports, too." Unlike other teams, which wore No. 42 en masse, the Giants preferred to make donning that jersey a distinction. So they selected Durham, whose 14 years of Major League service time is tops among Giants players, to handle the tribute on his own.
"That's an honor in itself," Durham said. "To have your whole team nominate you to wear the number is a very special moment in my career. I take that seriously."Among the D-backs, second baseman Orlando Hudson, first-base coach Lee Tinsley and outfielders Eric Byrnes, Chris Young and Justin Upton all donned Sedona Red No. 42 jerseys. All except for Upton, who was in the Minor Leagues at the time, did the same thing last year. "It's definitely an honor for all that my man went through for us," said Hudson. "Not just African-Americans, but for baseball. There's so much you can say about Jackie Robinson. It's eye-dripping to sit here and talk about him. There aren't words. I can't put it into words." "Anytime you can represent something as great as Jackie Robinson, it's an honor," Tinsley said. "I never had to go through the things that he had to go through, but just reading the stories about what he went through to open opportunities for everyone, there's not enough words to explain it." Introduced in 2004, Jackie Robinson Day was created to honor the enduring impact of Jackie Robinson and his legacy as the first African-American player to break the Major League color barrier. Robinson played his first Major League game at Ebbets Field on April 15, 1947, as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers. In honor of the 50th anniversary of Robinson breaking the Major League color barrier in 1997, Robinson's uniform No. 42 was retired throughout the Major Leagues. Robinson's memory lives on today in initiatives such as the Jackie Robinson Foundation, which was founded by Rachel Robinson, his widow, in 1973 to provide education and leadership development opportunities for minority students with strong capabilities but limited financial resources. Additionally, the Breaking Barriers program 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.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.