Webster hopes to wear No. 42 as Robinson tribute

February 28, 1997|By Roch Eric Kubatko

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Orioles catcher Lenny Webster has been wearing No. 46 in camp, but hopes to have it changed by Opening Day. The object of his desire: No. 42, in honor of Jackie Robinson and the 50th anniversary of his breaking major-league baseball's color barrier.

Webster, who signed with the Orioles in December, broached the subject with bullpen coach Elrod Hendricks about a week ago, then went to clubhouse manager Jimmy Tyler.

"I said if it was at all possible -- I don't want to cause any trouble -- but if at all possible, I told him why I wanted to wear it," said Webster, 32. "He said it wouldn't be a problem and he'd get me the number. He thought it was a great idea.

"I've always been an admirer of Jackie Robinson's. I always watched the old footage and film of him and thought he was a great player as well as a great person. This is my personal tribute to Jackie, to sort of dedicate this season to him."

For now, the number is being worn by Mike Flanagan, who's in camp as a pitching consultant.

"As a minority, you learn about your history, and Jackie Robinson is an integral part of baseball history," Webster said. "Jackie Robinson wasn't the best player in the Negro leagues, but he was the best player suited for what he had to go through. Not a lot of guys could have done what Jackie Robinson did. As far as that goes, you've got to respect the guy. If you don't feel something good about what he did, something's wrong."

Pub Date: 2/28/97

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