Let’s Make 42 A Verb

Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Reproduction number #LC-L9-54-3566-O

Maybe it’s just me.

But, every time I see the number 42, I think of Jackie Robinson.

It doesn’t have to be baseball-related.

And, it’s not just on April 15 when baseball celebrates Jackie Robinson Day.

No. Not just then.


If I glance at a clock and it’s 42 minutes after the hour.

I think of Jackie Robinson.

If I buy something and the total is $42.

I think of Jackie Robinson.

If it’s 42 degrees outside.

Jackie Robinson.

It always weirds me out to see a college baseball player wearing #42. Should you be doing that? I hope he recognizes the importance of that number on his back.

It’s more than a number now, isn’t it?

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

I like that Major League Baseball (occasionally) does the right thing. They retired Jackie Robinson’s number league-wide in 1997. (I know, I know … what took you so long, baseball?)

Baseball “un-retires” the number 42 each year on April 15 – the day Jackie Robinson donned #42 as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers, breaking through baseball’s color line. Every player will wear his number today. (Robinson had played in a few exhibition games with the Dodgers in the week leading up to April 15, but let’s not get picky here. This is the day. And, this is a celebration.)

Robinson wasn’t front-page news on April 15, 1947. Well, not outside of Brooklyn, anyway.

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 4/15/1947

Page One, top of the fold in Brooklyn.

And, it’s sort of sweet that the front page story of that day’s Brooklyn Eagle mentions Robinson – “the first Negro to crash the big league” – only in passing and several paragraphs after the Opening Day weather report. (Ideal Opening Day weather, the Eagle reported. “A bright sun was expected to zoom the thermometer up near the 60-degree mark with gentle, variable winds on the job to keep the sky practically cloudless.”)

It always bothers me that Robinson seemed to be such a tortured, unhappy person – something that dogged him until his much-too-early death at 53. How much of that came from the weight he carried? While we celebrate him today, I’m sure he would be disappointed that, 75 years later, we still seem far away from fairness and equality. In baseball and the world.


What if we make 42 a verb?

To forty-two something … to break a boundary … to right a wrong.

Like this …

Baseball finally did the right thing and forty-two’ed their cheapskate past and will now pay minor leaguers a wage that allows them to afford adequate housing and enough to eat. (hint, hint)

But, more than just baseball …

Are you still fighting with your sister?

Oh no, we forty-two’d that, we’re good now.

Or even something huge.

We forty-two’d hate. The world is at peace.

Forty-two’ing our way to a better world.

I like that.


More Jackie Robinson on The Baseball Bloggess:

What Can You Say About Jackie Robinson That Hasn’t Been Said? (2019)

Thank You, Jackie Robinson (2018)

“It Is Something That Seems Endless.” (2017)

“Brown-Eyed Handsome Man” (2017)

#42 (2014)

From Daytona Beach to Dodgertown (2013)



16 thoughts on “Let’s Make 42 A Verb

  1. Pingback: Soup, and all the other gifts: April 17 – A Silly Place

  2. Your verbification completely works for me! Several years back, my son joined a new baseball team in the fall, and the team didn’t have a pre-printed jersey for him. They had some stock jerseys and handed him #42. I remember him looking at me asking, “Is this even legal?” I loved that even his 11-year-old self recognized what that number meant.

  3. Been thinking about you a lot these days, watching UVA baseball and the O’s. Hope all is well.

    On Fri, Apr 15, 2022 at 11:20 AM The Baseball Bloggess wrote:

    > Jackie, The Baseball Bloggess posted: ” Maybe it’s just me. But, every > time I see the number 42, I think of Jackie Robinson. It doesn’t have to be > baseball-related. And, it’s not just on April 15 when baseball celebrates > Jackie Robinson Day. No. Not just then. Always. If I” >

  4. While looking up information on former ML pitcher Eppa Rixey I stumbled on your blog and
    have spent the past couple of hours reading your glorious, interesting, and sometimes touching
    ruminations on all things baseball from 42 to Douglas Neff, From Harry Chapman to the never
    ending travails of the present day Orioles to J R Richard who I saw as a first year player for the
    1969 Rookie League Covington Astros. It has been time well spent.. As long time Orioles
    announcer Chuck Thompson used to say ” Ain’t the beer cold”

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