Giants proud to wear Jackie's No. 42

Giants proud to wear Jackie's No. 42

SAN FRANCISCO -- The No. 42 was omnipresent across the land of baseball Sunday, and AT&T Park and the San Francisco Giants were no exception.

There was Angel Pagan racing around second base en route to his second triple in as many days. On Saturday, he was No. 16. Sunday, like all of his teammates, he was No. 42.

Gregor Blanco, a four-year Major League veteran, made a great running catch in the right-center-field alley to save a run for the Giants.

"This is a very special day for all Latin players," Blanco said. "It means a lot to be able to wear his number. He opened up opportuntiies for eveyone and not only helped baseball but also helped the world."

It was all part of a league-wide recognition of Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in 1947.

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"Today is the greatest day for us," Blanco said. "He was the best thing that could happen to us."

The 1997 season marked the 50th anniversary of Robinson's heroic struggle and Major League Baseball dedicated the season to his memory. His number is the first retired by every organization in any of the nation's major professional sports.

The day has been marked every year since. The Giants honored Jackie Robinson Foundation scholar Michael Duarte at home plate in a pregame ceremony. And with every player sporting the No. 42, it was easy to recall his legacy.

"It's an honor to wear that number," Giants pitcher Dan Otero said. "It's amazing. He changed the game of baseball for everybody. I wear it proudly."

UCLA also honored Robinson, the Bruins' first four-sport letterwinner. Robinson competed on UCLA's baseball team in 1940 and also represented the Bruins on the football, basketball and track and field teams from 1939-41.

"Jackie Robinson left an indelible mark on our university and our nation," UCLA coach John Savage told the school's website. "It's with the utmost pride and humility that our baseball program is able to play at a ballpark named in his honor. He is an American icon, and it's great to see that Major League Baseball honors the anniversary of his milestone every season."

The Bruins have played at Jackie Robinson Stadium since 1981. In his one baseball season at UCLA, Robinson batted just .097 during the California Intercollegiate Baseball Association season. In his first game, he had four hits and stole four bases, including home once.

Robinson did a little better for the Brooklyn Dodgers during a 10-year Hall of Fame career, batting .311.

Rick Eymer is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.