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COUNTING DOWN: The Best Yankee At Each Uniform Number (#58)

By Paul Semendinger

***

Fifty Eight.

Five. Eight.

21 players have worn uniform #58 for the Yankees.

The first player to ever wear #28 was Dooley Womack who wore the number from 1966 to 1968. When I think of Dooley Womack, I always remember the references to him (not especially flattering) from Jim Bouton’s Ball Four. Bouton didn’t feel Womack was much of a pitcher and said so, clearly.

Currently, Wandy Peralta wears this uniform number.

Like so many high and less than glamourous numbers, #58 has been worn by a collection of players, none who have really ever made their mark on Yankees history. Among these were:

Bobby Brown

Dave Wehrmeister

Andy McGaffigan

Mike O’Berry

Juan Espino

Al Holland

Bob Geren

Hensley Meulens

Dave Eiland

Mike Jerzembeck

Alfonso Soriano (just in 1999)

Randy Choate

Randy Keisler

Mike Vento

Sean Henn

Alex Graman

Colter Bean

Jeff Karstens

Tyler Lyon

and Wandy Peralta

How does one choose the best among them?

Most players who wore #58 had the number for the briefest of times. There not many who wore this number in multiple seasons. The following is the complete list of players who wore the number in more than one season:

Jeff Karstens (2006-07) – But Karstens also wore #17 in 2007. All told, anyway, he pitched in only 15 total games as a Yankee.

Colter Bean (2005-06) – In those years, Bean would appear in a grand total of just three games. (In 2007, wearing numbers 47 and 63, he’d pitch in three games. His complete career consisted of only six big league games.)

Randy Choate (2000-01) – In 2000, Choate pitched in 22 games. In 2001, during the season, his uniform number changed to #38, which he wore though 2003.

Juan Espino (1982-86) – An up-and-down catcher, Espino reached the big leagues in 1982, and again in 1983 for brief visits, and then not again until 1985 and 1986. He played a grand total of 49 Major League games, all with the Yankees. He also wore uniform numbers 52 and 65 in those years.

Which brings us back to the beginning…

Dooley Womack.

Dooley Womack was also no fan of Jim Bouton’s. He claims he never read Ball Four.

But what is true is that he was a pretty good pitcher during some of the Yankees’ worst years.

In 1966 (a last place finish for the Yanks), Womack appeared in 42 games. He went 7-3, 2.64. He threw 75 innings that year. He even saved four games.

In 1967, he led the Yankees in saves with 18. He also led the team in appearances with 65 (a ton more than runner-up Steve Hamilton who appeared in 44 games). Womack had a 5-6 record that year, but his ERA was again very good at 2.41.

In 1968, Womack was again solid. He pitched in 45 games and had a 3.21 ERA. He again led the team in appearances.

After the 1968 season, he was traded to the Astros for Dick Simpson who would appear in just six games for the Yankees.

All told, Dooley Womack appeared in 152 games as a Yankee. He went 15-16, 2.70 and saved 24 games. He is #29 all-time in saves in the Yankees’ long history.

In August 1969, Womack was traded from the Astros to the Seattle Pilots for (you guessed it) Jim Bouton.

The greatest Yankee to ever wear #58 was easily Dooley Womack, a pretty good pitcher who isn’t remembered for being as good as he was because of the references in Bouton’s book.

(Now the big question, coming soon, was Bouton the best ever at #56?)

***

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

***

PREVIOUS ARTICLES IN THIS SERIES:

COUNTING DOWN: The Best Yankee At Each Uniform Number (#99)

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#JimBouton

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