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COUNTING DOWN: The Best Yankee At Each Uniform Number (#88)

By Paul Semendinger

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There is a reason I started with the higher numbers and decided to work my way down for this series…

Many of these players have been long forgotten. Some most have never heard of. And others are prospects that have had just a moment in the sun.

It’s fun to discover facts about little known Yankees. (And, we will have plenty of time to talk about Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, and Mantle in the days ahead.)

I read about the Yankees daily. I study Yankees history, and have my whole life, as just part of what I do on a daily basis, but I have to admit, I did not recall a player named Josh Outman until I wrote this article.

Josh Outman was a pitcher. A left-handed relief pitcher who pitched for the Oakland A’s (2008-09, 11), Colorado Rockies (2012-13), and the Cleveland Indians (2014) before coming to New York to throw for the Yankees also in 2014.

The Yankees grabbed Outman in late August in a trade for a player or cash. Since no player was ever named, it must be assumed that the deal was for cash.

Outman’s stats as a Yankee are remarkable in a way.

He pitched in 9 games for the Yankees, yet he threw only 3.2 innings. He pitched, but he didn’t pitch much.

Here are his nine appearances:

8/29/14 – Faced one batter vs Blue Jays and gave up a hit

9/4/14 – Faced and retired one batter vs. Red Sox

9/7/14 – Faced and retired one batter vs. Royals

9/9/14 – Faced and retired one batter vs. Rays

9/11/14 – Faced and retired one batter vs. Rays

9/12/14 – Faced and retired three batters vs. Orioles

9/13/14 – Faced and retired two batters vs. Orioles

9/16/14 – Faced and retired one batter vs. Rays

9/19/14 – Faced one batter vs. Blue Jays and gave up a hit

That’s amazing success. The guy came in time after time and got his opponents out. He gave up two hit, both to the Blue Jays. (This, of course, made me wonder if it was the same batter both times. The Blue Jay who got the single on August 29 was Munenori Kawasaki. In the September 19 game, the Jay to get the hit was Jose Reyes, who doubled.)

Still, for seven consecutive, now forgotten, games Josh Outman came out of the pen and did the job he was asked to do.

And he never pitched in the big leagues again.

The only other Yankee to wear #88 was Ryan Thompson in 2000 and he earns the distinction for being the greatest Yankee to wear #88.

Thompson played in 33 games for the Yankees. He batted .260 with 3 homers and 14 runs batted in. Pedestrian numbers, of course, but Josh Outman’s performance is dwarfed by Thompson’s output.

Ryan Thompson had been one of those Mets prospects who was hyped to the moon and beyond and never really panned out. He came to the Mets (with Jeff Kent) in the trade the Blue Jays made for David Cone way back in 1992. It took a bit for Thompson to reach the Yankees. AS his career was winding down, his experience with the Yankees looked like this:

December 15, 1999: Signed as a Free Agent with the New York Yankees

April 2, 2000: Released by the New York Yankees

May 1, 2000: Signed as a Free Agent with the New York Yankees

November 15, 2000: Released by the New York Yankees

After his short time with the Yankees, Thompson played for the Marlins (2001) and the Brewers (2002).

It wasn’t a remarkable career for Thompson, but, he did become the greatest ever in one way – he’s the greatest Yankee to ever wear #88.

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(Most of the research for this project comes from Baseball-Reference.com.)

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