Today is Jackie Robinson Day in the majors and three Yankees will wear No. 42 in his honor – Joe Girardi, Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano.
Cano was named after Jackie Robinson by his baseball-loving father. He wears 24 because of that.
Mariano Rivera is the last player who wears 42. He was assigned the number as a young player and kept it. MLB retired the number in 1997 and Rivera, Mo Vaughn and others were allowed to keep it until they retired. Rivera is the last player from that group.
Several entire teams, including the Rays, will wear 42.
There was some sad news in Connecticut yesterday as long-time sportswriter Randy Smith passed away. His paper, the Journal Inquirer, ran a nice story about his life.
I was 22 when I started covering UConn men’s baseball and way over my head. But my paper sent me everywhere with the Huskies, even to Alaska. Smith worked for a competing paper, but he always would take time to give me advice.
The best? “Write it well, Peter. They all count.”
It’s gone now but there was a bar on East 50th Street in Manhattan named Runyon’s. It was where all the writers and coaches hung out during the Big East tournament, back when there were nine teams in the conference and everybody knew everybody. Believe it or not, coaches used to want to drink with the writers.
Randy and Phil Chardis of the JI threw me a cab once and introduced me to everybody in the place. I learned more about writing on those nights than in four years of college. So here’s to Randy, thanks for everything.