COUNTING DOWN: The Best Yankee At Each Uniform Number (#28)
By Paul Semendinger
What if there was a number where the best players were ones that even the most knowledgeable Yankees never heard of?
That might be the case here.
Uniform #28 used to be used for some pretty good ballplayers, Yankees that stuck around for a while. For example:
Myril Hoag (1931-1936) - He hit .277 in 280 games in that period (He also wore #9 in 1937 and 1938.)
Atley Donald (1938-1945) - A career Yankee pitcher. He went 65-33, 3.52 as a Yankee pitcher in 153 games (115 starts). Years later, as a scout, he signed Ron Guidry.
Tommy Byrne (1946-1951) - Over those years, Byrne went 40-33, 4.14. He'd be a Yankee again, in #23 from 1954 to 1957.
Tom Morgan (1951-1956) - 38-22, 3.48
Art Ditmar (1957-1961) - 47-32, 3.24
Bud Daley (1961-1964) - 18-16, 3.89
That's an interesting collection of some pretty good, but often forgotten Yankees. These were all pretty good players, mostly pitchers, who were important pieces during a period of time when the Yankees won the bulk of their World Series.
In recent years, the number has been used for guys passing through with no prospects of being long-time Yankees. The number is currently worn by Josh Donaldson. Last year it was worn by Corey Kluber. Some other Yankees of note were:
Ruben Sierra wore #28 in 2005.
David Justice in 2000 and 2001
Tim Leary in 1990
John Mayberry in 1982
Bob Watson from 1980-1982
In looking at this long list of players, there is only one who can be considered the greatest at #28.
This Yankee wore #28 from 1972 through 1978. He was a left-handed relief pitcher - one of the best in the history of the Yankees.
In 1977, this pitcher won the American League Cy Young Award.
He was also an All-Star three times.
His 2.41 career ERA ranks 3rd all-time for the Yankees.
He's 8th in Games Pitched (420)
He's 5th in Saves (141) and
3rd in Games Finished
The greatest Yankee to wear #28 was, Sparky Lyle.
Most of the background research for this project came from Baseball-Reference.com and the SABR BioProject.