No. 42

by Nathan Hague

There was no decision when it came to picking the best player to ever wear No. 42. In fact, not only was it the easiest one so far, it just might be the easiest we’ll see in the entire countdown. It doesn’t hurt that the No.42 was retired across the board in all of Major League Baseball. It also doesn’t hurt that every team honors him by having Jackie Robinson Day every year in which every player wears his number. Also, it definitely doesn’t hurt that there was a movie titled “42” about the Robinson.

His story goes far beyond baseball. We all know his story but it never gets old. Robinson broke the color barrier by becoming the first African American player in the modern era of Major League baseball when the Brooklyn Dodgers started him at first base on April 15, 1947. This move by the Dodgers ended racial segregation in baseball, prior to which, African Americans were forced to play in the Negro leagues for about 60 years.

Robinson was a man of character and principle and he made significant contributions to the Civil Rights Movements both on and off the field.

He attended UCLA where he became the first university athlete to win varsity letters in four sports: baseball, basketball, football and track. There he was just one of four black athletes on the football team.

In 1942, Robinson was drafted into the Army. After serving for two years, he took a job as athletic director at Sam Huston College (now Huston-Tillotson University). While there, he received a letter from the Kansas City Monarchs offering him a spot in the Negro Leagues. He signed the a contract for $400 per month.

He only played 47 games as the shortstop for the Monarchs due to frustration with travel schedules. That same season, he had a tryout with the Boston Red Sox but faced severe racial discrimination. In 1946, he played AAA ball for the Montreal Royals. While there, the racial discrimination continued as he wasn’t even permitted to stay with his teammates at the team hotel.

Less than a week before the start of the next season, he was called up to the majors to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers where he played his first MLB game at age 28. He played for 10 seasons where he played in six World Series. H finished his career with a batting average of .311, 1,518 hits, 137 home runs, 734 RBI and 197 stolen bases. He was a six-time All Star, a World Series Champion, NL MVP, MLB Rookie of the Year and a two-time National League stolen base champion.

He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.

Robinson’s heroic example sealed him a spot into record books, Cooperstown and he’s by no question, the greatest player to ever wear No. 42.

Coming in a distant second place for the honor is Mariano Rivera.

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No. 43

by Nathan Hague

In this jersey number countdown series, the majority of athletes we’ve featured have moved on from the game. That’s not the case for Troy Polamalu who is not only still playing but you could argue, is still in his prime.

Polamalu is one of the best safeties in the game and will go down as one of the best to ever play the game. He’s an eight-time Pro Bowler, a two-time Super Bowl Champion, the NFL’s Defensive Player of th e year in 2010 and a five-time AFC Defensive Player of the week. He’s also a member of the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team.

He was drafted in 2003 by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round of the 2003 NFL Draft, and that season he earned Rookie of the Year honors. His punishing hits can cause nightmares for any receiver going up for the catch. As of right not, he has 32 interceptions, 13 forced fumbles and 3 touchdowns in his career. Something that’s almost as scary as he is; he’s not showing signs of slowing down.

As a football fan, it’s great that we can still watch and enjoy the athleticism of Polamulu. One day, he will be retired and the Steelers will retire his No. 43, no question. There’s also no question that he’s the best athlete to ever wear No. 43.

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Ron Washington Says Goodbye

In a move that shocked just about everyone, former Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington said goodbye to the Texas Rangers organization today. Here is a portion of his statement from texasrangers.com “Today, I have submitted my resignation from the job I love — managing the Rangers — in order to devote my full attention to […]

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Let the jokes begin

If Jerry Jones does in fact add Michael Sam to the Cowboys’ practice squad, the crazy old man will just once again prove the he cares way more about the attention than he does winning football games. A gay cowboy? Is this Broke Back Mountain? Well, I guess we just have to let the jokes […]

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Raffle tickets for Outback still available

This is by far the most advertised post I’ve ever put on the site but I just thought I’d let people know that there are raffle tickets for Outback still available. This past Monday, the Hague Sports podcast did a show from Outback Steakhouse in Tyler and decided to sell raffle tickets for $1 each […]

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AFC and NFC East 2014

AFC East By Ben Dieter Big shocker here: the Patriots are favored to win the AFC East in 2014. Until Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are gone, they probably will be. The Jets should be better and the Bills may be better as well, but the Patriots will still be the class of the division. […]

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No. 44

Picking the best athlete to ever wear No. 44 is a no-brainer. Many people consider Hank Aaron the real all-time home run hitter to this day seeing as Barry Bonds would never have come even close without the help of steroids. Hammerin’ Hank did it the right way. He spent 21 season is the Major […]

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AFC and NFC South 2014

AFC South By Ben Dieter The AFC South is going to look eerily similar to what it looked like last season. I see nothing that happened this offseason that makes me believe that Houston or Jacksonville can vault themselves past Tennessee or Indy. Andrew Luck is going to be a year better, Jake Locker should […]

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No. 45

Why does it seem like I’m forgetting someone great when it comes to the greatest player to ever wear No. 45? To me it comes down to Pedro Martinez and Archie Griffin but I ultimately chose Martinez and his numbers (stats) speak for themselves. Pedro “Who’s your daddy” Martinez was an eight-time All Star, a […]

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AFC and NFC North 2014

AFC North By Ben Dieter

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