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70th Anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier

Here's why everyone is wearing #42 on April 15
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Posted at 12:46 PM, Apr 12, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-15 10:00:45-04

The date is April 15, 1947. A 28-year-old Jack Roosevelt Robinson, better known as Jackie, digs into the batters box at Ebbets Field in an event that forever changed the course of sports.

On that day, Robinson became the first African-American player to play Major League Baseball. His debut for Branch Rickey's Brooklyn Dodgers paved the way for non-white ballplayers everywhere.

You've heard the stories, seen the documentaries, maybe even seen his plaque in Cooperstown at the Hall of Fame. His courage, bravery and integrity (not to mention incredible talent) in the face of adversity gave him a legacy that would last far beyond his passing in 1972.

Here are some of Robinson's most memorable career moments.

In 1997, the number 42 was retired across Major League Baseball and remains the only jersey number retired across the league. Mariano Rivera was the last player to wear it when he retired in 2013.

The Los Angeles Dodgers will honor Robinson's memory this year by dedicating a statue. The statue depicts Robinson sliding into home, one of the iconic moments of his Hall of Fame career, and will be placed right outside reserve level entrances, along the left-field line of Dodger Stadium.

According to the L.A. Times, Robinson's daughter Sharon says she expects about 200 friends and family members — including her 94-year-old mother, Rachel — to attend the unveiling and ceremony on baseball’s annual Jackie Robinson Day.

The first Jackie Robinson Day recognized across baseball was in 2004, and has grown since to the point where now every uniformed player and coach wears his number, 42.

"I have often stated that baseball's proudest moment and its most powerful social statement came on April 15, 1947 when Jackie Robinson first set foot on a Major League Baseball field", said former MLB Commissioner Bud Selig upon establishing the tradition. "On that day, Jackie brought down the color barrier and ushered in the era in which baseball became the true national pastime." 

Number 42 will forever be immortalized, not only in baseball history, but in the history of the Civil Rights movement. Jackie Robinson's contributions both to the game and society will not be forgotten. 

And when you see players and coaches of every skin color, ethnicity and nationality wearing that 42 on their jersey on April 15, remember the legacy of the late great Jackie Robinson, forever enshrined in Cooperstown and the hearts of millions.