(NEXSTAR) — If you watch major league baseball games closely, you might notice not a single player wears No. 42. April 15 is the only exception when every MLB player can wear the hallowed number on the same day—Jackie Robinson Day.
When he took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947, Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier. While those playing in the MLB weren’t even alive when Robinson made his debut, the league honors his legacy every year on April 15.
On Jackie Robinson Day, every player and on-field personnel don the number Robinson wore, 42, which was retired by the league in 1997. This year, to mark the 75th anniversary of Robinson’s debut, the No. 42 on every team’s jersey will be Dodger blue, regardless of the team’s primary colors.
He died on Oct. 24, 1972. The MLB has been honoring Jackie Robinson Day every year since 2004, with all players and on-field personnel wearing No. 42 on April 15 every year since 2009.
There were additional tributes throughout the day on Friday as well. In New York, 42nd Street was temporarily renamed Jackie Robinson Way. The sign at 42nd and Broadway will then be taken to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
In Los Angeles, Jackie’s widow, Rachel (who’s turning 100 this year), will be in attendance at Dodgers Stadium as the Dodgers play the Cincinnati Reds. Before the game, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts will bring his team to the Robinson statue outside the main, center-field entrance to pay tribute to Robinson.
Robinson was born in Cairo, Ga., in 1919. He attended college at UCLA, where he was named to the All-American football team, but was forced to leave due to financial difficulties, the biography on his website reads. Robinson then enlisted in the Army, but his career was cut short after being court-martialed for objecting to “incidents of racial discrimination.” He ultimately left with an honorable discharge.
In 1945, Robinson played in the Negro Baseball League for the Kansas City Monarchs. Two years later, Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers.
After nine seasons with the Dodgers, Robinson retired following the 1956 season. He went on to work as the vice president for personnel at Chock Full O’ Nuts, a restaurant chain in New York, and became a Civil Rights icon, according to the Library of Congress.