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42

Posted: April 18, 2013 9:33 a.m.
Updated: April 19, 2013 5:00 a.m.

It was coincidental that the recent dedication of the Larry Doby and Bernard Baruch statues in Camden came just weeks before April 15, which was the day in 1947 that Jackie Robinson broke the color line in Major League Baseball when he debuted with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Later that summer, Camden native Doby became the first African-American player in the American League when he joined the Cleveland Indians.

Professional sports have changed radically since then. Fortunately, skin color is no longer a requisite for being a professional athlete, but in many ways the games are no longer as much fun as they used to be -- mainly concentrated around money and the often-stratospheric egos of athletes. But Major League Baseball came up a few years ago with a unique way to honor Robinson, who wore number 42, and it continued this year. Just last week, on April 15, every Major League Baseball player wore number 42 in a tribute to Robinson. The tradition began back in 1997, the 50th anniversary of Robinson’s first appearance, and it continues to this day.

Adding to the intrigue is the fact that the movie “42,” a movie based on Robinson's story, is currently playing in theaters across the country and has been tops in box office receipts. All of these things call attention to a major step forward that occurred 67 years ago and marked a giant change in history.

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