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Listen to Vin Scully tell one of his very favorite stories about Jackie Robinson and the No. 42

No baseball figure alive has a closer connection to Jackie Robinson than iconic broadcaster Vin Scully. His stories of their meaningful times together enthralled fans for decades prior to his 2016 retirement, and his voice is still missed from the airwaves.
Fortunately, Jackie Robinson Day provided an opportunity for Scully to briefly return to deliver another memorable story about the legend. To celebrate the 70th anniversary of Robinson's debut, the Dodgers unveiled a statue of him at Dodger Stadium. Scully was invited to speak and, as seen in the video above, he decided to tell a story that foretold one of MLB's best traditions: that every player would wear number 42 on April 15.

It all started with an outfielder named Gene Hermanski, Robinson's teammate dating back to his very debut (Hermanski played left field on that fateful day in 1947). According to Scully, Robinson had already been on the Dodgers for a few years, but he still received hate mail.
On one road trip into Cincinnati's Crosley Field, Robinson received a particularly scary death threat. There was a pall over the visitor's locker room as the Dodgers prepared for the game. Scully recalled how, undeterred by the silence, the happy-go-lucky Hermanski spoke up with a solution for the man he admired so much.
"Gene suddenly said, 'I've got it!'
Everyone looked, and they said, 'What?'
He said, 'We'll all wear number 42, and they'll never know which one is Jackie Robinson!'"

Hermanski's remark broke the tension, and thankfully, nothing happened that day.
Little did Hermanski know that his words were, in a way, prophetic. MLB retired the number 42 across baseball on April 15, 1997, but Mariners star Ken Griffey Jr. quickly inspired a new tradition by requesting to wear Robinson's number on the anniversary of his debut, both in 1997 and 2007. In 2009, MLB formally recognized Robinson by having everyone around baseball don number 42, just as Griffey did.
So now, all players wear 42 on April 15, preserving Robinson's tradition, and to a lesser extent, Hermanski's idea. Baseball is truly a better place with Scully keeping these stories alive.