The Washington Post

Potomac Nationals owner retires as first-base coach to honor Mariano Rivera, Jackie Robinson

Art Silber, owner of the Potomac Nationals, Minor League Affiliate of the Washington Nationals, announced today that he will no longer coach first base. Silber, 71, who is now in his 23rd season as owner and part time first base coach stated that he has “coached his last game.” 

He recently notified officials of Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball and the Carolina League that he will no longer pursue his dream of being the last number 42 in professional baseball. Silber’s childhood idol was the late Jackie Robinson who broke the baseball color barrier in 1947.

On April 15, 1947, Silber was at Robinson’s first game at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, New York. Robinson’s number was 42 and on the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s first game, April 15, 1997, that number was retired for all of professional baseball, major and minor league, with the exception of grandfathering those who already wore that number. For the last few years, the only two in uniform who were permitted to wear number 42 were Silber and Mariano Rivera, the great closer for the Yankees and certain future member of baseball’s Hall of Fame.... 

Silber had told both Major and Minor League Baseball that he would not back into the record. If for any reason, other than retirement, Mariano Rivera could not play, then he would stop as well.

 Recently, Mariano Rivera was injured and his season and perhaps career has ended. Out of respect for Rivera’s career, Silber will hang up his uniform, being the last number Minor League Baseball.

When the team gave away Silber bobbleheads in 2010, the press release referred to him as a “living legend” and the “oldest first base coach” in baseball.

Dan Steinberg writes about all things D.C. sports at the D.C. Sports Bog.


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