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04/15/09 9:31 PM ET

Wakefield pays tribute to Robinson

Veteran was honored to wear No. 42 while chasing history

OAKLAND -- Years from now, when Tim Wakefield goes back to the archives and checks out one of the most memorable performances of his impressive career, he will enjoy seeing No. 42 on his back instead of the familiar No. 49 that he has donned for the Red Sox since his arrival in 1995.

It just so happens that when Wakefield pitched his complete-game gem on Wednesday against the Oakland Athletics -- finishing five outs shy of a no-hitter in the process -- he was wearing Jackie Robinson's No. 42.

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In fact, every uniformed member of Major League Baseball wore that number on Wednesday in a unified tribute to the man who broke baseball's color barrier in 1947.

When Wakefield's postgame interview started with a question about his near no-no, he immediately spoke of the number he wore during the performance.

"First of all, it was an honor to wear the No. 42 out there today on Jackie Robinson Day," Wakefield said after Boston's 8-2 victory. "The stuff that he did to break the color barrier and to take a stand and say that every man was created equal -- it's just an honor to wear the No. 42 today."

It was a bit of a surreal sight in the Red Sox's clubhouse on Wednesday morning, with each locker stall being covered by jerseys with No. 42 on the back.

Major League Baseball retired No. 42 for all teams in 1997. Mo Vaughn is the last Red Sox player to wear No. 42.

The only player in the Majors who still has that number is Mariano Rivera, because he had it before it was retired throughout the game.

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