I follow baseball because I love this country. That’s right, I’m a patriot. I love baseball and I love bald eagles and I love a national anthem that is nearly unsingable. When I’m a retired old man I firmly intend to buy season tickets to whatever team (major or minor) is closest to my home. I will attend the ball game with a bald eagle, buy him a beer if he wants one, and we will sing along to the national anthem. It will be a glorious end to my accomplished life.
There is one retired number across all of baseball: 42. It was Jackie Robinson‘s number. Ernesto, therefore, is wearing a number you’d never find on a jersey today. Actually, Mariano Rivera, who was wearing the number when major league baseball retired it, has been allowed to keep it as long as he is an active player. When he retires, the number will too.
I like using 42 as a tribute, but also as a bit of ambiguity. What team does Ernesto root for? The Brooklyn Dodgers? Does he even like baseball, or did he just find the shirt stuck in a Palo Verde tree? Is it an original jersey worn by Jackie Robinson, or a reproduction?
42 is also the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything, according to noted author Douglas Adams. When Douglas Adams died (sadly young, at age 49), Darby Conley devoted an episode of his strip Get Fuzzy to his memory.
Ernesto wears the number 42 either in homage to those two great men, or simply because it was the only shirt he could find. Either way, I like having the number in Falling Rock. It reminds me to strive for excellence, or at least ambiguity.