The Potomac Nationals unveiled the identity of the bobblehead doll that will be given away to the first 1,000 fans on Saturday night July 17. The true collectors item will celebrate living legend Art Silber's 70th birthday and what may be the last No. 42 in professional baseball.
Silber, Nationals owner for more then 20 years, and the "oldest first base coach" in baseball, was at Jackie Robinson's first game on April 15, 1947. Living just half a block from Brooklyn's Ebbets Field, he used to wait for Robinson every day to walk him to the player's entrance. He wore 42 to honor his idol in high school and college and still wears it as a tribute to the man who "ended the longest shutout in baseball" when he played his first game as a man of color.
Silber and Mariano Rivera, closer for the Yankees, are the only two people in baseball who are still permitted to wear Jackie Robinson's retired 42. Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig retired 42 for all of baseball on April 15, 1997, the 50th anniversary of Robinson's first game. Those wearing 42 were grand fathered and permitted to wear it until they retired. Silber and Rivera are the only ones left. Rivera is 40 and Silber is now 70.
Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, in the shadow of the old Ebbets Field, Silber spent many summer days along Bedford Avenue, where his favorite player used to park his car. When Robinson arrived, Silber would often walk with him to the players' entrance. He did this for most Dodger home games from the age of 7 until he was 15.
Silber retired several years ago as President and CEO of Sterling Bank in Baltimore. He has been the team owner since 1990. Silber's two children, Lani and Seth, serve as team president and treasurer, respectively.
The bobblehead giveaway will take place Saturday, July 17, as the Potomac Nationals host the Kinston Indians at G. Richard Pftizner Stadium in Woodbridge, Virginia. First pitch is set for 6:35 p.m. and, as always, the Saturday game will be followed by a spectacular fireworks display, sponsored by Sheehy Auto Stores. Gates open at 5 p.m.
Art Silber Bobblehead Night is also the second of three Scout Nights at Pfitzner Stadium. Scout troops, youth groups and families are invited to stick around after the game to spend the night and camp out in the outfield and see a movie on our new million-dollar video board.