COUNTING DOWN: The Best Yankee At Each Uniform Number (#34)
By Paul Semendinger
53 players in Yankees history have worn uniform #34.
The first to ever wear the number was Foster Edwards. He pitched for two games as a Yankee in 1930. It’s been like that with #34.
Lou McEvoy pitched in #34 for six games in 1934.
Frank Makosky pitched for the Yankees for one season, 1937. He wore three numbers that year, none for very long, I assume. #34 was one of those numbers.
In 1947, Bobo Newsom pitched in 17 games for the Yankees. He wore #34.
When Jack Phillips played in his only Major League game in 1948 (he played more games in other seasons), he wore #34.
Harry Schaeffer pitched in five games as a Yankee. For part of that time, he wore #34.
Kal Segrist played in 13 games as a Yankee in 1952. He wore #34.
Babe Hale played in 11 games as a Yankee. He wore this number.
Lenny Randle wore #34 when he played in his 20 Yankee games.
The list goes on and on and on… Bob Davidson (a Least Among Them Yankee), Don Schulze, Mike Humphreys, Jerry Nielson, Andy Cook, Greg Harris, Sean Henn…
Chris Bootcheck, Jim Miller, Vidal Nuno, Dustin Fowler, Jace Peterson, Justin Wilson…
All of these players wore #34.
Here’s a suggestion – If you are ever a Yankee, and they offer you #34, politely refuse and ask for a different uniform number.
Trying to find the greatest Yankee at #34 seems like an impossible task.
Here are the candidates:
Johnny Sturm (1941), 124 games: .239/3/36 (-1.9 WAR) (At one point, the Yankees were very high on Johnny Sturm, so I’m including him despite these numbers. Yes, that’s a negative WAR.)
Buddy Hassett (1942), 132 games: .284/5/48 (1.7 WAR)
Mike Hegan (1973-74), 141 games: .208/9/28 (0.1 WAR)
This isn’t easy!!!
Dave LaRoche (1981-83), 52 games pitched: 8-3, 3.12 (he also wore #38 in 1983) (1.8 WAR)
A.J. Burnett (2009-11), 99 games pitched: 34-35, 4.79 (3.7 WAR)
Brian McCann (2014-16), 405 games: .235/69/227 (5.7 WAR)
J.A. Happ (2018-19), 42 games pitched: 19-8 (3.2 WAR). (He wore #33 in 2020)
The three greatest Yankees to wear #34 in the history of the franchise are A.J. Burnett, J.A. Happ, and Brian McCann.
The greatest of these was Brian McCann. I considered A.J. Burnett for his World Series season in 2009, but McCann played in so many more games, handled a key position (catcher), and did well enough. McCann, as an everyday player was involved in so many more games as a Yankee. He gets this honor.
I know the Yankees are retiring a lot of numbers, but I suspect #34 will be around for a long long long time.
Most of the background research for this project came from Baseball-Reference.com and the SABR BioProject.
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