COUNTING DOWN: The Best Yankee At Each Uniform Number (#3)
By Paul Semendinger
The greatest Yankee to wear uniform number 3 is arguably the greatest baseball player of all-time, Babe Ruth.
All one has to do is look down the lists of the best players as measured by any number of metrics and Ruth's name is there time and time and time and time again.
First in career WAR, 186.2
Eighth in lifetime batting average, .342
Second in On-Base Percentage, .473
Third in home runs, 714
First in OPS, 1.163
First in Slugging Percentage, .689
Fourth in runs scored, 2,174
Eighth in total bases, 5,793
First in OPS+, 206
Third in runs batted in, 2,214
I could go on...
But, how about at these stats:
Hall of Fame Black Ink Test:
The average Hall of Famer's total is about 27. Babe Ruth's total is 157
Hall of Fame Gray Ink Test:
The average Hall of Famer's total is about 144. Babe Ruth's total is 340.
Hall of Fame Monitor Test:
A likely Hall of Famer's scores about 100. Babe Ruth's total is 411
Hall of Fame Standards Test:
The average Hall of Famer scores about a 50. Babe Ruth totaled 79.
Oh... and Babe Ruth also won 94 games as a pitcher with a 2.28 ERA.
The Babe was on 10 World Series teams, winning seven times.
It would be a tough case to make that Babe Ruth isn't the greatest player in baseball history. As such, he is easily the greatest player to wear #3 in Yankees history, but, even though he was the first player to wear #3, he wasn't the only Yankee to wear that number.
These Yankees also wore #3:
George Selkirk (1935-42)
Bud Metheny (1943-46)
Roy Weatherly (1946)
Eddie Brockman (1946)
Frank Coleman (1946-47)
Allie Clark (1947)
Cliff Mapes (1948)
Who among them was the greatest?
George Selkirk, an outfielder, had a lifetime batting average of .290. He batted over .300 in five different seasons. He had two 18 home run seasons, a 19 home run season, and a 21 home run season. In total, he hit 108 homers. He accumulated 23.4 WAR in his career. (Not for nothing, he ranks 41st all-time in WAR as a Yankee ahead of Jason Giambi and just behind Moose Skowron.)
Bud Metheny, an outfielder, was a starter during the World War II seasons. In 376 games, he batted .247.
Roy Weatherly, an outfielder, played in only 79 games as a Yankee. He had been a pretty good outfielder for the Cleveland Indians from 1936-42. As a Yankee in 1943, he batted .264 in 77 games. He wore #10 that year. He then went off to war. He played in only two games in 1946. He wore #3 that year.
Eddie Brockman, an infielder, played in four games as a Yankee. He hit .083. He also played for the Indians and the Pittsburgh Pirates in his four-year career.
Frank Coleman, an outfielder and first baseman, had played for the Pirates in five seasons before becoming a Yankee. He played 27 games as a Yankee and batted .163.
Allie Clark, an outfielder and third baseman, played in seven big league seasons, for numerous teams, but was a Yankee for only 24 games in 1947 to begin his Major League career. In those 24 games... he batted .373!
Cliff Mapes wore #13 and #3 in 1948. He batted .250 that year with one homer. He was a Yankee for four seasons (1948-51), he also played for the St. Louis Browns and the Detroit Tigers.
The greatest non-Babe Ruth Yankee to wear uniform #3 was, easily, and by far, George Selkirk, a player who deserves to remembered much more.
Selkirk was better than many know. The following is where he stands on the Yankees All-Time War list. You'll see he's surrounded by some pretty impressive players:
Yankees All-Time WAR (35th through 45th):
35 - Dave Winfield, 27.1
36- Paul O'Neill, 26.7
37- Ben Chapman, 26.5
38- Roger Maris, 26.4
39- Frank Crosetti, 24.4
40- Bill Skowron, 23.7
41- George Selkirk, 23.4
42- Jason Giambi, 22.0
43- Tom Tresh, 21.4
44- Home Run Baker, 20.6
45- Hideki Matsui, 20.4
Most of the background research for this project came from Baseball-Reference.com and the SABR BioProject.
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