Weeks plans to wear No. 42 with pride

Weeks plans to wear No. 42 with pride

Weeks plans to wear No. 42 with pride
SEATTLE -- By the time Jemile Weeks was born in 1987, baseball was already celebrating the 40th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's color-barrier breaking entrance in the game.

Yet Weeks, now 25, heard plenty tales about the baseball legend from several family members, some of whom have ties to the Negro Leagues, including his grandfather.

"I heard about him, read about him, watched movies on him," Weeks said. "It's definitely an interesting story and an interesting part of our baseball history."

These days, Weeks is writing the early chapters of his own history, enjoying the beginning of his second Major League season after putting up impressive numbers in his rookie year. However, this will mark the first time he'll be wearing a big-league uniform -- donning No. 42, alongside his peers -- on Jackie Robinson Day, to be celebrated across the nation in every park on Sunday.

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And for that, Weeks is very much grateful.

"I think, being an African-American player especially, you have to take pride in that," he said. "You have to understand the significance of what he did and what it means to the game of baseball. I obviously pride myself in it, and with family members tied in with the Negro Leagues, I'm appreciative of what he went through and the process it took."

Robinson's journey wasn't an easy one, during a time when racism was heavily prevalent in America. But he took none of those struggles to the field with him, instead leaving it with the Rookie of the Year Award, while also finishing fifth in the Most Valuable Award voting in his first season.

Just two years later he finished first, marking one of many accomplishments during a tremendous 10-year career with the Dodgers, whom he helped to a World Series title in 1955. All have been noted by Weeks, who is a big believer of keeping in perspective the strides that have been made in baseball since Robinson's arrival.

"I think, if you look around the clubhouse right now, how many African-Americans do you see?" Weeks said. "And I think you can say that in any clubhouse. You gotta keep that revived, keep it coming, because it's tough to get to those African-American communities and it's tough for them to see a face like themselves on TV. To keep a Jackie Robinson Day alive, it at least supports the players that are playing to go out there and maybe try to reach out to others and use Jackie Robinson as a symbol."

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.