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  • Paul Semendinger

COUNTING DOWN: The Best Yankee At Each Uniform Number (#23)

By Paul Semendinger

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And sometimes these are easy.


#23 is Don Mattingly.


Simple. Easy. Period. No questions asked.


The greatest Yankee to wear #23 was Donald Arthur Mattingly.


***

In the history of the Yankees, 25 different players wore #23. Just for fun, I'll list them all:

  1. Tony Lazzeri (1932)

  2. Floyd Newkirk (1934) - A Least Among Them Yankee!

  3. Frank Masosky (1937)

  4. Dick Kryhoski (1949)

  5. Fenton Mole (1949)

  6. Bob Porterfield (1950-51)

  7. Archie Wilson (1951)

  8. Bill Miller (1951-54)

  9. Tommy Byrne (1954-57)

  10. Murray Dickson (1958)

  11. Ralph Terry (1959-64)

  12. Rich Beck (1965)

  13. Jim Brenneman (1965)

  14. Billy Bryan (1966-67)

  15. Bob Tillman (1967)

  16. Ellie Rodriguez (1968)

  17. Don Nottebart (1969)

  18. John Ellis (1969-72)

  19. Jerry Moses (1973)

  20. Alex Johnson (1974-75)

  21. Oscar Gamble (1976)

  22. Damaso Garcia (1978)

  23. Luis Tiant (1979-80)

  24. Barry Foote (1981-82)

  25. Donnie Baseball (1984-95) - Retired

***

It's Don Mattingly. Plain and simple.


Mattingly led the American League in hits twice, doubles twice, runs batted in once, and batting average once. He was an MVP. He was a six-time All Star. He won nine Gold Gloves. Mattingly on three Silver Slugger Awards.


Yeah, that's easy.


But, who is the runner-up? It comes down to two pitchers: Tommy Byrne or Ralph Terry.


Byrne (1954-57) : 30 wins, 16 losses, but just 0.5 WAR

Terry (1959-64): 76 wins, 56 losses, 9.0 WAR


Terry gave up the big home run to Bill Mazeroski to end the 1960 World Series in a loss, but he also got Willie McCovery to line out to end the 1962 World Series in a victory for the Yankees.


Terry's best year was 1962 when he went 23-12 and led the AL in games started and innings pitched.


It's great to remember Don Mattingly, but we also shouldn't forget that Ralph Terry was a pretty good pitcher for a nice period of time. Tommy Byrne's WAR belies his second tenure with the Yankees (he was also a Yankees in 1943 (before the war) and from 1946-51).


***

Most of the background research for this project came from Baseball-Reference.com and the SABR BioProject.

***

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