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Jackie Robinson family proud of Mariano Rivera

03/08/2013 11:24 AM ET
By Matt Hughes

Rachel Robinson greets Mariano Rivera before the Yankees honored Jackie Robinson in 2011.(AP)
Mariano Rivera will reportedly retire from baseball following the 2013 season. Rivera will also retire the No. 42 jersey, the last player to wear Jackie Robinson's famous number.

An ESPN report highlights the Robinson family's affinity for Rivera. Rachael Robinson, Jackie Robinson's widow, is proud that Rivera will be the last man to wear her husband's number.

"He carried himself with dignity and grace," said Rachel Robinson, "and that made carrying the number a tribute to Jack."

Mrs. Robinson said she does not know Rivera well, but has met the pitcher on a couple of occasions and admired him as a fan of the game.

"Mariano is a wonderful player," she said, "and he's taken his place on the team in serious ways but also in graceful ways. I'm very pleased with what he's done, and I'm always a little sad when someone who's accomplished so much retires."

Jackie Robinson ended racial segregation in baseball in 1947 when he broke into the Majors as the first modern black player with the Brooklyn Dodgers. In the face of great adversity Robinson's exceptional character and baseball talent transformed the game and left a lasting cultural legacy. Jackie Robinson died in 1972. 

MLB officially retired Robinson's No. 42 jersey in 1997. Rivera, who has worn No. 42 since breaking into the Majors in 1995, was grandfathered in and is the last man to wear the number. Rivera called wearing Robinson's number "a great honor to me, and something I take very seriously. You have to respect what that man did, and everything he went through."

Jackie Robinson Day is celebrated across baseball on April 15, when all uniformed personnel wear No. 42 in Robinson's honor. 

Follow Matt Hughes on Twitter: @hughesmatt

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