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04/10/08 12:45 AM ET

Bourn to wear No. 42 for Astros

Outfielder honoring Jackie Robinson on April 15 vs. Phillies

HOUSTON -- Last year, Commissioner Bud Selig "unretired" Jackie Robinson's No. 42 on April 15 and invited any player who wished to wear that number to do so. The offer still stands, and the Astros asked center fielder Michael Bourn to wear uniform No. 42 when the Astros open their series in Philadelphia.

Last year, the entire Astros team wore No. 42. But because the Phillies have designated just one player -- Jimmy Rollins -- to wear No. 42 on Tuesday, the Astros will do the same.

"We asked the Phillies what they were doing, and they told us Jimmy Rollins was going to wear it for them," general manager Ed Wade said. "So we thought it would be appropriate to earmark one of the players to do it for us. Michael being our leadoff hitter, it made sense for him to do it."

The Astros have three black players, all of whom expressed interest in wearing No. 42. Bourn indicated he would jump at the chance to wear No. 42.

"Every year, when it comes around and you honor him, you think about him," Bourn said. "He's the one that started it. It's just always an honor to put 42 on. It always will be as long as I'm able to play the game."

Although Wesley Wright and Shawn Chacon won't be wearing No. 42 on Tuesday, it's clear Jackie Robinson's legacy has had an influence on them in their baseball careers and private lives.

"Being drafted by the Dodgers, I was very familiar with the story, just all he did for African-Americans and breaking the barrier, Wright said. "The things he went through and how he handled it, which was with dignity and grace, it's an example for all the people who have to go through tough times and not let it get the best of you."

Chacon said commemorating Jackie Robinson Day is "very important" and that having an opportunity to wear No. 42 is "pretty special."

Introduced in 2004, Jackie Robinson Day was created to honor the enduring impact of Jackie Robinson and his legacy as the first black player to break the Major League color barrier. Robinson played his first Major League game at Ebbets Field on April 15, 1947, as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers. In honor of the 50th Anniversary of Robinson breaking the Major League color barrier in 1997, Robinson's uniform No. 42 was retired throughout the Major Leagues.

Robinson's memory lives on today in initiatives such as the Jackie Robinson Foundation, which was founded by Rachel Robinson in 1973 to provide education and leadership development opportunities for minority students with strong capabilities but limited financial resources, as well as Breaking Barriers, which utilizes baseball-themed activities to reinforce literacy skills, mathematics, science and social history in addition to addressing critical issues of character development, such as conflict resolution and self-esteem.

Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.