Retired Uniform Numbers

By now, most baseball teams have retired at least one uniform number to honor a former player. IMHO, my favorite, the Yankees, has gone a bit overboard with FOURTEEN retired numbers. Here’s the list:
1- Billy Martin, 3- Babe Ruth, 4 - Lou Gehrig, 5- Joe DiMaggio, 7- Mickey Mantle, 8- Yogi Berra, 8- Bill Dickey, 9- Roger Maris, 10- Phil Rizzuto, 15- Thurman Munson, 16- Whitey Ford, 23- Don Mattingly, 32- Elston Howard, 37- Casey Stengel, 44- Reggie Jackson.

This could be seen as testiment to the number of great players who’ve played for the Yanks, but I think the honor is becoming diluted. As sacriligious as it sounds, I don’t think the Yanks should have retired numbers for Martin, Maris, Rizzuto, Howard, Jackson, and . . .gulp . . . Mattingly. All great players, no doubt. Deserving of their bronze plaques on the outfield wall, absolutely. But on a team that boasted the likes of Ruth, Gehrig and DiMaggio, should Billy Martin’s and Elston Howard’s number be hanging alongside them, never to be worn again?

And regarding Major League Baseball’s decision to retire Jackie Robinson’s #42 on all teams:
I think a more appropriate honor for a man whose contribution to the game superceded mere athletic prowness would have been to name an award or a baseball-sponsored scholarship after him. Do we really honor Jackie Robinson’s contibution to society by saying nobody on the Devil Rays will ever wear #42? Doesn’t seeing his number hanging in Fenway Park seem a bit out of place?

On a similar line – The entire NHL decided to retire the #99 out of respect for the Great One. I feel that it is very approiate. Wayne made such a contrubition to the HNL, more so than any other player in history. Wayne was the greatest player in NHL history, his number should be retired from the entire league. 50 years from now, when a young boy (or girl) goes to a hockey game, and asks “why is that #99 up there?” I would feel proud to explain who Wayne was, and what a contrubition he made to hockey.

There are some who remember where they were when Mcguire hit 70, I remember where I was the day Wayne retired…

I am NOT a sports expert, but I do believe that Mario Lemieux, came pretty damn close to beating Gretsky’s records, had it not been for his health problems.
(And don’t ask me which ones-I DON’T know, but I do live in Pittsburgh and hear about sports all the time…)

I wonder if perhaps, instead of permanently retiring numbers, teams could instead just retire numbers for a really long time, like 75 years. That way, the honoree would get the joy of never seeing his number worn again, and a great deal of the honoree’s fans would also die before the 75 years was up.

Or, teams could go to triple digits on the uniforms. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that – it’s just that nobody has done it and it would initially seem weird.

Hmm, just had a discussion about the same idea over on a racing board a couple weeks ago. Canadian racer Greg Moore was killed on-track last October 31 and the CART sanctioning body retired his number (99). Some people said it was appropriate out of respect for him and his contribution to the sport, others said it wasn’t because he hadn’t really done that much in his 3 years on the circuit, the first group came back and said that the only reason his numbers weren’t better overall is because he’d only been there for 3 years, the second group said you can’t count on “might’ve beens”, the first group said that it’s ok because he still did a hell of a lot for a newbie in the time he had, and so on back and forth. If it wasn’t for the fact that I’d had a crush on the man for the entire 3 years he was an indy-car driver, I’d probably agree with Group 2, so I can’t count my opinion in group 1 because it’s subjective.

I agree with Soup, except I do retire Martin, as a combined player and manager.

The Yankees would give a number to Eddie Layton and retire it if they could make a buck off of it.

For a team that’s very good nearly all the time, the Yankees like to make sure you get reminded of it EVERY friggin’ half inning.

Retired numbers, like any honor, lose their ability to honor anyone if they end up honoring everybody.

As a Penguins fan, I’m a definite Lemieux fan…but he really never came close to Gretzky’s records. Maybe if he had been able to play for as long, and stay healthy he’d have had a shot at some of them, but as it stands, Gretzky’s records are absolutely phenomenal. I mean, Jagr scored 96 points last year, and he won the scoring title. Gretzky had 215 points one year, including 163 assists. He also scored 92 goals in a different year. It’s nuts.


Martin was a colorful Yankee, both as a player and manager. But as far as retiring his number, he wasn’t a good enough player, and although he was a good manager, he only really won two pennants. I think Bucky Harris might’ve won more in the 30’s.

Steinbrenner just doesn’t wait long enough before pulling the retired number trigger. Mickey Mantle was retired for 4 years before he got the honor, Berra longer than that. I think Martin was still the Yankee manager when George retired his number, probably out of guilt for humiliating him so many times.

I think they should go ahead and retire a number after a particularly great player identifies himself with that number. The Cardinals have retired 9 numbers:

Ozzie Smith #1, Red Schoendienst #2, Stan Musial #6, Enos Slaughter #9, Ken Boyer #14, Dizzy Dean #17, Lou Brock #20, Bob Gibson #45, Gussie Busch #85.

Smith, Musial, Dean, Brock, and Gibson I think deserve the honor.

I am, however, a little fuzzy on Busch. What did he do besides won the team (he did sign the first black players to the Cardinals, but that was just a matter of time anyway.)

And except for Slaughter’s .305 batting average as a Cardinal and his famous “Mad Dash” in the ninth inning of Game Seven of the 1946 World Series, (earning the victory and World Championship for the Cardinals) his numbers don’t seem all that outstanding. Schoendienst’s numbers don’t seem all that great either. Hoever, I never saw either of them play defense, which is the main reason Ozzie Smith belongs on the wall.

And from all accounts, Ken Boyer seems like a fan favorite. Willie McGee was a fan favorite also, but the Cardinals chose not to retire his number (upsetting many fans, McGee had no comment on the matter).

Of course, there’s the 10th retired number: Robinson’s number 42. I don’t understand why they chose his number, except as the man who broke the color barrier. Personally, I think if anyone’s number should be retired league-wide, it should be #3 in honor of Babe Ruth, a player who brought about a change in the way the game itself is played.

“I am, however, a little fuzzy on Busch. What did he do besides won the team

That should say own the team

Harris only won 1 pennant and WS with the Yankees, it was in 1947. Martin won 1 world series and 2 pennants in 1976 and 1977.

Miller Huggins (who had no number) won 3 WS (23, 27, 28). Joe McCarthy won 7 (32, 36, 37, 38, 39, 41, 43). Stengel won 7 (49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 56, 58). Houk won 2 (60, 62). Lemon won 1 (77). Torre has won 3 (96, 98, 99).

Did McCarthy wear a number? He’s far more deserving of a retired number than a lot of others who have that honor. Bill James considers him the best manager of all time.

I don’t think Huggins wore a uniform - not all managers did in those days, and not all unifroms had numbers. Why was Ruth #3 and Gehrig #4? They were their usual positions in the batting order. IIRC Huggins has a plaque in Monument Park, arguably a higher honor.

Joe McCarthy! That’s who I was trying to think of, not Harris. Some Yankee fan I am, huh? You’re right, Bob, he would be a more deserving honoree than Martin.

I wonder if the Yanks will actually hang #42 on the outfield wall? My guess is they just won’t reassign it when Rivera’s done with it, and leave it at that.

While we’re on the subject…

Why the hell haven’t the Cubs retired #23 (Ryne Sandberg)? Granted, the Cubs have been squeamish about retiring numbers, only retiring two (Ernie Banks and Billy Williams) in their century-plus history. Even so, among the many other men who deserve to have the Cubs retire their number (Phil Cavaretta, Gabby Hartnett, Ron Santo, and perchance Hank Sauer and Andy Pafko), Sandberg stands out.

In fact, I propose that #23 be retired from all Chicago sports teams, in honor of Sandberg and Michael Jordan.

My $.02

While we’re still on the subject…

Did the Bears retire Brian Piccolo’s number, whatever the hell it might have been?


Originally posted by rastahomie

Did the Bears retire Brian Piccolo’s number, whatever the hell it might have been?

Piccolo’s number was 41 and I don’t know if they retired his number…I don’t think they did.
The list goes on: Culpepper, Moss, Smith, Carter, Anderson…


<laugh> Lemieux coming close to Wayne’s records <laugh>

If guilt is a factor, when does Winfield’s number go up?

So what was Joe McCarthy’s number? Anyone? Anyone?

I’ve read a column that speculated that most likely Joe Torre and possibly Derek Jeter will have their numbers retired someday. That’ll leave the Yankees with NO single-digit numbers. Kind of silly.

Maybe if the Yankees build a new Stadium, they can carve statues of their greatest players into the facade, like the saints in St. Peter’s Square.