Patterson Honored To Wear Robinson's 42
By Craig Heist
On Sunday the number 42 will be back, if just for one day, as Major League Baseball honors the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's breaking the color barrier.
Selected players from around baseball will be able to wear the uniform No. 42, which was retired by MLB 10 years ago.
The idea was brought about by the Reds' Ken Griffey Jr., who called Commissioner Bud Selig and asked if he could shed his No. 3 for the day and wear 42 as a tribute to Robinson.
Selig thought it was a great idea and encouraged a player from each team to wear 42 for the game scheduled to be played that day.
"We got an e-mail from the commissioner talking about Ken Griffey's idea and how he thought it was a terrific idea," said Orioles vice president of baseball operations Jim Duquette. "Mike [Flanagan] and myself talked it over with Sam [Perlozzo], and we really thought that of all the people on our club, we would offer it to Corey [Patterson] first.
"He's been a player that has been here the last couple of years and exemplifies what you are looking for from a player on your team to represent Jackie Robinson and the number, so we asked him and it didn't take him long to answer, obviously."
Patterson will join Dmitri Young, Barry Bonds, Gary Sheffield, Carl Crawford, LaTroy Hawkins and Willie Randolph, to name a few, and he is excited to get the opportunity to honor Robinson.
"It means a lot to me because if it weren't for Jackie Robinson, there wouldn't be any African-Americans in baseball or other sports as well," Patterson said. "Not only what he did for athletics, but for society and just for me to be able to wear his number in the upcoming days means a lot."
Robinson was the 1947 Rookie of the Year and the Most Valuable Player, as well as a six-time All-Star. He had a lifetime batting average of .311 throughout his 10-year career.
What Robinson had to endure off the field was some of the most blatant racism imaginable. But it was his fight for equality that made him the man he was and gave hope and promise to so many others. Patterson says that's what No. 42 means to him.
"No matter what we do in this world, whether it's baseball or anything else, people are going to have challenges, and obviously we all know what Jackie went through and he was able to overcome that," Patterson said.
"Mentally, I don't know how he dealt with it, just having to play with it on the field but off the field, too. A lot of people say 'just focus about things on the field,' but he had to encounter all of those issues off the field as well. For me, he had double the work to do. I am very appreciative of everything he went through and the struggles he overcame."
Patterson said he learned a lot about Robinson at a very young age.
"I learned about him when I was 6, 7, 8 years old," he said. "I learned about him in school and whenever his name came up I paid close attention. It was not just before I started to get interested in baseball, it was in school and also through my parents."
Patterson said he thinks about a lot of the same things today as he did in his childhood when it comes to learning about Robinson. He will be thinking about Robinson's impact on society when he wears No. 42 on Sunday.
"People always talk about what he did for the game," Patterson said, "but I tend to think more of what he did and how he touched the world off the field. To deal with all the racism, we have come a long way in that category, but we still have some work to do.
"Nothing is perfect, but what I will think about the most is how he touched people off the field and hopefully changed their views and opinions of people.
"That's the biggest thing because I think in this world, it's about the kind of person you are and how you treat others. It's how you can get respect from others that will get you further in life than just hitting a baseball. That's what I will remember the most about him. I am thankful and happy to be honoring him by wearing the number."
Issue 2.15: April 12, 2007