04/14/2008 11:58 AM ET
Hairston: Wearing No. 42 with pride
Center fielder among those to honor Jackie Robinson
It's a great privilege to wear No. 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson because he's meant so much to baseball -- especially to the African-American players who have come after him.
It really is something when you look back and read about all of the stuff that he had to go through to cross the color barrier. I wore No. 42 last year when I was with Arizona, too, and I got chills when the on-the-field ceremonies took place. It will be a special day, and I'm really happy that we're honoring Jackie Robinson like this again.
Our equipment manager comes around and asks us if we would like to wear the number. It's our decision, but really it's a no-brainer. When you get that opportunity, it isn't really something you have to think about too much.
Jackie Robinson Day has a special meaning to my entire family. My grandfather is one of the players who played in the Negro Leagues, and I have a lot of respect for him and those players. Times weren't easy back then for black players, but they paved the way for all of the African-American players who have since come through. Wearing No. 42 in tribute is a way to show respect for not just Jackie but all of the black players who paved the way.
When I was in high school, I read a couple of books about players in the Negro Leagues. Finding a restaurant to eat in was difficult for many of those guys. Hotels were difficult to find because the players were black. A lot of them had to sleep in the team bus or in their cars in the stadium parking lot.
They were really great players, but so many of them were unknown because of their skin color. It's important for people to realize what might have been. I'm glad guys in the Negro Leagues have been honored and have received more recognition recently. It's just too bad that so many of the players aren't around today to receive that belated recognition.
Scott Hairston and teammate Tony Clark will be wearing No. 42 as part of Major League Baseball's annual Jackie Robinson Day celebration. This Tuesday, April 15, marks the 61st anniversary of the day Robinson first played in the Majors. Hairston's grandfather, Sam, was the first black player on the Chicago White Sox in 1951.