COUNTING DOWN: The Best Yankee At Each Uniform Numbers (#71)
By Paul Semendinger
It’s fun when a current Yankees is the best player in history with that uniform number.
There are certain players who I think of when I see certain numbers, most, probably from when baseball was brand new to me and all of the players were legends, superheroes, or gods of some sort.
Graig Nettles will also be the first player I think about when #9 comes up.
Ron Guidry is #49.
Reggie is #44.
But, other team’s players also show up… because those are the players I first saw and associated with those numbers:
#8 was Carl Yaztrzemski
#14 was Pete Rose (Lou Piniella too.)
#41 was Tom Seaver…
on and on.
Some of those guys, of course, were the best ever at that number. But others, “the shortstop, number 20, Bucky Dent,” may not have been.
In my head #17 is Mickey Rivers and Oscar Gamble. I loved them both.
In my mind, at least, I associate certain players with their uniform numbers. In a way the two are interchangeable.
Sometimes we see the greatest players when they are playing. We see the player that defines that number for us – and for all – and for all-time.
And then there are numbers, like 71, that it’s very difficult to award to any player.
Here are the candidates:
Thairo Estrada (2020) – In 26 games, he batted .167.
Stephen Tarpley (2018-19) – In 31 games, he pitched to a 5.88 ERA.
Austin Romine (2011) – In 9 games, he hit .158
You probably didn’t know it at the time, but while Stephen Tarpley was pitching, you were watching the greatest Yankee ever at #71.
You know, he never did lose as a Yankee (1-0 lifetime record) and he did save two games for them as well.
Most of the research for this project comes from Baseball-Reference.com.