April 05, 2007

Randolph Claims 42

David Lennon at Newsday, writes about Willie Randolph and him claiming Jackie Robinson's number:

The Reds' Ken Griffey Jr. was the first to ask commissioner Bud Selig if he could wear No. 42 on Jackie Robinson Day, which will take place April 15. But as soon as Selig honored the request, and expanded it to all 30 teams, Willie Randolph was quick to claim the number for the Mets.

"It's a tremendous honor," the Mets' manager said before last night's game. "When I heard that today, they were joking with me about who would wear it, and I said, 'I'm going to fight whoever's got it.' It's an honor to be even mentioned with his name. It's going to be a special day for me to be able to wear number 42."

Randolph is among four African-American coaches and players currently on the Mets, a list that includes bench coach Jerry Manuel, Lastings Milledge and Damion Easley. The number was retired by Major League Baseball in 1997 on the 50th anniversary of Robinson's debut and players wearing it at the time were allowed to continue to do so. The Yankees' Mariano Rivera is the only one who still has it.

"Baseball's doing a great job of continuing to honor the man that meant so much to so many people," Randolph said. "For me to be able to wear number 42 is a special day for me."

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