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I think a more appropriate honor for a man whose contribution to the game superceded mere athletic prowness would have been to name an award or a baseball-sponsored scholarship after him.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?