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COUNTING DOWN: The Best Yankee At Each Uniform Number (#46)

By Paul Semendinger

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I always wonder when I get to the retired numbers, and I am sure I’ll find one or more somewhere along the way, where the number is retired for one player, but there was a different player who wore than number who was actually greater as a Yankee.

For example, #9 is retired for Roger Maris. I believe that Graig Nettles had a more significant Yankees career than Roger Maris. I would assume Nettles’ WAR is better. But, I won’t truly know until I write that essay which is still some time away…

We know that Andy Pettitte was #46 as a Yankee. The number is retired for him. I am going to assume, going in, that he was the best ever at #46, but when I write these, I always wonder if there is a surprise lurking…

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One thing I have always liked about #46 is that two of my favorite Yankees ever wore that number when they first arrived in the big leagues.

Don Mattingly wore #46 before switching to #23 in 1984. A few years later, Mike Pagliarulo wore #46 before changing to #13.

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In total 28 Yankees wore #46.

Andy Pettitte is, by far, the greatest ever to wear #46.

Of the twenty-eight Yankees who have worn #46, the following are the only players to wear the number for more than one season:


Rick Dempsey (1973-76)


Gene Locklear (1976-77)


Don Mattingly (1982-84)


Henry Cotto (1985-87)

And then there is Andy Pettitte.

Andy Pettitte wore #46


In 447 games


Over 2,796.1 innings


Earning 219 wins


Against just 127 losses

Andy Pettitte ranks among the Yankees Top 10 pitchers in the following categories:


WAR (3rd)


Wins (3rd)


Games (6th)


Innings (3rd)


Strikeouts (1st)


Games Started (1st)

Andy Pettitte went 18-10 as a Yankee in the post season.

Was Andy Pettitte the best ever at #46? Absolutely. Of that there is no doubt.

Should #46 be retired for him? I used to think not, but when a player is so great that he’s at the top of some of a team’s most important pitching categories… a case can be made.

I think Andy Pettitte will one day be in the Hall-of-Fame. Then the retired number would make even more sense.

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

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