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04/08/08 10:19 PM ET

Sizemore, Sabathia to honor Robinson

Indians to wear legend's No. 42 next week in tribute

ANAHEIM -- When asked for the second straight year if he wouldn't mind flipping around his No. 24 to read "42" for a day, Grady Sizemore didn't have to think twice about it.

Honoring Jackie Robinson on April 15 by wearing his retired number, Sizemore figured, is the least he could do.

"Just wearing his number doesn't do justice to all the things he did for the game," Sizemore said of Robinson. "He was one of the greats. We're just doing our part to pay tribute to him."

Joining Sizemore in that tribute will be reigning American League Cy Young Award winner C.C. Sabathia, who, unfortunately, will not be pitching on Jackie Robinson Day, as he was while wearing No. 42 last year.

"It's pretty cool that guys are going to be doing it again," Sabathia said.

They'll be doing it again at the invitation of Commissioner Bud Selig, who once again will lift the restriction on 42 to celebrate the man who broke baseball's color barrier.

Introduced in 2004, Jackie Robinson Day was created to honor the enduring impact of Robinson and his legacy. Robinson played his first Major League game at Ebbets Field on April 15, 1947, as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers. In 1997, in the 50th anniversary of that game, Robinson's 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 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.

And his impact on the game itself is still obvious to anyone who has seen Sabathia pitch, or Sizemore, whose father is African-American, man center field for the Tribe.

"To me, he means everything," Sabathia said. "I wouldn't get a chance to play this game if it weren't for him. He means so much to so many people, but he means everything to me, because, without him, I wouldn't get this opportunity."

This pair of Indians players is pleased with the opportunity to once again honor Robinson on April 15.

"It's his day," Sizemore said.

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