Baseball players wear number 42 in tribute to Jackie Robinson in Chicago, April 15, 2008. [AP File]

About the Author: Cindy Gire is the Director of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ SportsUnited Office at the U.S. Department of State.

Whether they play in the National League or the American League; infield or outfield; pitcher or catcher — on April 15 every player in Major League Baseball dons the number 42.

Today marks the 64th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in professional baseball. He wore the iconic number 42 for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Robinson was the trailblazer who opened the door for young people of all backgrounds the opportunity to play sports together at the highest level.

It was Major League Baseball great Ken Griffey Jr., a sports diplomat with the U.S. Department of State, who started the tradition of wearing the retired number 42 to honor Robinson on April 15.

Griffey, Jr. and several professional… more »