Any athlete, whether child, amateur, or professional, chooses a number and tends to wear it for sentimental reasons.

Does anyone know why Jackie Robinson had chosen number 42?

  • Do rookies typically pick their own jersey numbers? I thought they get numbers assigned by the team.
    – Ben Miller
    Commented May 16, 2018 at 3:47
  • Are you trying to make a point? Did Robinson not have control over the number he wore over the duration of his career? Commented May 16, 2018 at 12:34
  • 2
    I don’t know. The assumption in your question is that athletes typically choose their own numbers. My assumption has always been that athletes are usually assigned numbers by their team. One of us is mistaken; it might be me.
    – Ben Miller
    Commented May 16, 2018 at 12:58
  • Some players wear a number they have chosen in Little Leagues until they retire from the bigs. Have you never heard a story told by the announcer as to why a player wears a certain number? Commented May 16, 2018 at 13:39
  • I always thought stories like that were the exceptions, not the norm. But to answer your question, no, I have never played a team sport that required numbered jerseys.
    – Ben Miller
    Commented May 16, 2018 at 13:57

1 Answer 1


As Benjamin Hoffman explained for the New York Times baseball blog, 42 is just one of Robinson's numbers:

42 represents just his time with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Playing football while at U.C.L.A., Robinson wore 28, but for the Bruins basketball team he switched to 18. In his time in the Negro Leagues he played for the Kansas City Monarchs and may have had as many as three different numbers, with various accounts having him wearing 5, 8 and 23. And while there seems to be some debate about his number while playing for the Montreal Royals, the Dodgers Class-AAA affiliate in 1946, a video about his time with the team produced by the CBC clearly shows him wearing 10.

As you can see, he wore many numbers over his sports career. As far as I have been able to tell, he had never worn number 42 before he played for the Brooklyn Dodgers, and the number was probably just assigned to him by the team.

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