Davis honored to wear No. 42
Outfielder appreciates what Jackie did for African-Americans
OAKLAND -- A's outfielder Rajai Davis was with the Giants on April 15, 2008, and he was disappointed that he didn't get to wear No. 42 as part of Major League Baseball's tribute to Jackie Robinson.
The Giants voted to have one player don the number, and veteran second baseman Ray Durham got the nod.
"I really wanted to do it, but I didn't have a choice," Davis said Tuesday.
Davis didn't have a choice Wednesday, either. But that was a good thing. Every player, coach and manager in the game wore No. 42 on the 62nd anniversary of Robinson's debut with the Dodgers.
Of the 50 active players suited up for the finale of a three-game series between the A's and Red Sox at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, Davis was the only African-American.
"It's a huge honor," Davis said. "Everything that Jackie represented, everything he did, everything he still stands for, it's almost overwhelming to think about. ... More than anything, I appreciate what he did for baseball as a whole, but I also appreciate what he did for me.
"He might not have realized it at the time, but he was paving the way. He was playing for me."
Before play started Wednesday afternoon, the A's focused on Robinson with a scoreboard tribute and the introduction of two local students -- Charles Fyffe and Danielle Benjamin-Arrington -- as the team's Jackie Robinson Foundation scholars for the year.
The foundation is a non-profit organization started by Robinson's wife, Rachel, in 1973.
Fyffe is a junior at UC-Berkeley, majoring in leadership and social change. Benjamin-Arrington is a 2008 graduate of Cal and founded a program that pairs African-American female students as mentors to teenagers in local public housing.
They are among 279 Robinson scholarship recipients across the nation, and more than 1,300 men and women have been aided in their academic endeavors by the foundation.
Fyffe threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
"It's a cool day," Davis said. "Jackie was cool in so many ways, it's just a privilege to be a part of anything that brings attention to who he was and what he did."
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.