Griffey to pay tribute to Robinson

Griffey to pay tribute to Robinson

CINCINNATI -- On April 15, the No. 42 will be back in circulation on players' backs around Major League Baseball for the first time in a decade.

The idea to un-retire Jackie Robinson's uniform number belonged to Reds right fielder Ken Griffey Jr.

Griffey recently called baseball commissioner Bud Selig for permission to wear No. 42 on April 15 when the MLB will celebrate the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's breaking of the color barrier in baseball.

"It's just my way of giving that man his due respect," Griffey said on Wednesday.

Robinson, a member of the Hall of Fame, wore No. 42 when he played for the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1947-56.

Griffey currently wears No. 3 for Cincinnati. But he won't be a week from Sunday, when the Reds will be playing the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

"I just called Bud and asked him if I could do it," Griffey said. "He made a couple of phone calls and said 'Yeah.' We had a good conversation. It was about me wearing it on that day, and only that day."

Selig liked Griffey's idea so much, he has encouraged other clubs to have a player wear No. 42 on Jackie Robinson Day. Robinson's memory will be honored during all 15 games played on April 15.

"This is a wonderful gesture on Ken's part and a fitting tribute to the great Jackie Robinson and one, I believe, that all Clubs will eagerly endorse," Selig said in a statement released by Major League Baseball. "To make this happen, I gladly will temporarily suspend the official retirement of uniform No. 42 on that day. Jackie continues to be an inspiration to all of our players, and his impact will be felt for as long as our game is played. I thank Ken for finding another special way to mark Jackie Robinson Day."

On April 15, 1997, Selig announced that Robinson's No. 42 would be retired throughout baseball. On that day, while playing for the Seattle Mariners, Griffey switched from No. 24 to No. 42 for one game to honor Robinson.

"If it weren't for Jackie Robinson, I wouldn't be able to put on the uniform I'm wearing today," Griffey said. "He should be an inspiration not only to baseball players but to anyone who fights prejudice and hatred."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.