Three to don No. 42 for Red Sox

Three to don No. 42 for Red Sox

CLEVELAND -- In recognizing Jackie Robinson Day, three uniformed members of the Red Sox will wear No. 42 for Tuesday night's game against the Indians.

Center fielder Coco Crisp, designated hitter David Ortiz and third-base coach DeMarlo Hale all feel strongly enough about what Robinson did for baseball to wear his number.

Beginning last year, Major League Baseball invited anybody from any team to wear the number on April 15, which is the date Robinson played his first Major League game back in 1947.

"He was the first to cross the barrier," said Crisp. "He was a great guy, great personality. He was a little more outspoken about things that were going on in baseball, which actually helped in a roundabout way. Also, Larry Doby, you can't forget about him. He was the first in the American League."

The way Crisp looks at it, he is recognizing Robinson and Doby by wearing No. 42.

"Both of those guys we get to celebrate pretty much by wearing Jackie Robinson's number," Crisp said. "But both of those guys are really big. Obviously there are more stories and everything on Jackie Robinson and what he had to get go through and how hard it must have been."

Crisp has a big appreciation for all those who shaped black history.

"It definitely would have taken a lot more time [for baseball integration] without people like Martin Luther King and incidents that became big things like Rosa Parks not getting on the bus or Malcolm X being so outspoken and strong," Crisp said. "All of those things are equally powerful. There's a whole lot of things that have gone on that probably shouldn't have and there's people who stood up for that exact reason. Just from a baseball sense, [Robinson and Doby] did a lot for the game of baseball."

Growing up in the Dominican Republic, Ortiz had no idea who Robinson was. But once he came to the Major Leagues, the late Kirby Puckett -- the man Ortiz wears No. 34 in honor of -- gave him an education.

From that point on, Ortiz has had a huge appreciation for Robinson.

"Of course," said Ortiz. "That's why I'm here. It's all because of him."

Introduced in 2004, Jackie Robinson Day was created to honor the enduring impact of Jackie Robinson and his legacy as the first African-American player to break the Major League color barrier. Robinson played his first Major League game at Ebbets Field as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers. In honor of the 50th anniversary of Robinson breaking the Major League color barrier in 1997, Robinson's uniform No. 42 was retired throughout the Major Leagues.

Robinson's memory lives on today in initiatives such as the Jackie Robinson Foundation, which was founded by his widow, Rachel Robinson, in 1973 to provide education and leadership development opportunities for minority students with strong capabilities but limited financial resources, as well as Breaking Barriers, which utilizes baseball-themed activities to reinforce literacy skills, mathematics, science and social history in addition to addressing critical issues of character development, such as conflict resolution and self-esteem.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.