Mariano Rivera celebrates his last Jackie Robinson Day as active player
Each year, Major League Baseball recognizes April 15, Jackie Robinson Day, in unique fashion. Every player in the league wears Robinson's "42" as a tribute to the first player to break the color barrier in the major league. The tradition has been especially unusual because one player in particular - the New York Yankees' Mariano Rivera - doesn't have to change his uniform. He is the only player who still wears 42 regularly (the number was universally retired in 1997), but he is hanging up his cleats after the end of this season.
Rivera, who is the all-time leader in saves, recognizes he carries a heavy burden by being the only player to wear 42 on an everyday basis. He says that Jackie Robinson Day is a particularly stark reminders of what the Dodger great did for the game, and he has tried to understand everything there is to know about the iconic figure.
"I have always said that wearing this number is a privilege and a great responsibility, and to represent what Jackie represented for us, as a minority, and for all of baseball in general, it's tremendous. For me, it's just a privilege to wear and to try to keep that legacy. It makes me want to be at my best. And that's what I tried to do my whole career," Rivera told ESPN.com.
Rivera is not the only member of the Yankees who carried a unique tribute to the Hall of Famer. Second baseman Robinson Cano - who wears 24 - was named after Jackie Robinson.