COUNTING DOWN: The Best Yankee At Each Uniform Number (#56)
By Paul Semendinger
I recently wrote that the best Yankee ever to wear #58 was Dooley Womack who is mentioned in Jim Bouton’s classic book Ball Four.. Bouton was, at one time traded for Dooley Womack.
The question now is, was Bouton himself, the best ever at #56?
Choosing the best ever #56 is a big task. There were 27 different Yankees who wore this number.
Most recently, Darren O’Day wore it. For whatever reason, it seems when the Yankees see #56, they think of relief pitchers. The following bullpen arms all wore #56:
Darren O’Day (2021)
Jonathan Holder (2018-20)
Chris Britton (2007)
Scott Proctor (2004)
Todd Williams (2001)
Darrell Einertson (2000)
Ted Lilly (2000)
Dale Polley (1996)
Dave Pavlas (1995)
Mark Leiter (1990)
Al Holland (1986)
Curt Young (1984)
Bill Castro (1981)
Mike McCormick (1970)
John Cumberland (1968-70)
And then there was Jim Bouton who pitched for the Yankees from 1962 to 1968. At the start of his career, Bouton was a starting pitcher.
Among non-pitchers who wore the number, the following players deserve a mention:
Bert Campaneris (1983)
Rex Hudler (1984-85)
Yup, and that’s about it.
Dave Righetti was probably the best Yankee to ever wear #56. he wore it briefly in 1979. Righetti’s success came while wearing uniform number 19.
But, among all those names, which is the only best-selling author?
Yeah, Jim Bouton.
But that shouldn’t get him this award. This award should be based on success on the field.
And Bouton wins there as well.
Jim Bouton is the only 20-game winner on the list. He went 21-7, 2.53 in 1963.
Bouton is also the only 18-game winner as well. He went 18-13, 3.02 in 1964.
Jim Bouton won two games for the Yankees in the 1964 World Series.
Jim Bouton’s WAR as a Yankee was 9.6 (Dooley Womack’s was 3.8.)
I am glad Dooley Womack was the best ever at #58.
I’m also glad that Jim Bouton that Jim Bouton was the best ever at #56.
There is poetry in that.
Bulldog Bouton, the best ever.
I like it.
Most of the background research for this project came from Baseball-Reference.com.
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