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Rethinking the Retired Numbers: (Part 2 of 2)

After looking at some common ideas for a system for retiring numbers on Friday, today, Ethan Semendinger has taken that list to see which players from Yankees history would now find this high honor.

To see the first post in this quick series, where I outline the 4 commonly suggested criteria, click here.

 

Players/Managers Numbers that would be Removed from the Four Criteria*:

Billy Martin (#1)

Breaks Criteria #1, as his number was retired for his time as a manager

Joe Torre (#6)

Breaks Criteria #1, as his number was also retired for his time as a manager

Roger Maris (#9)

Breaks Criteria #2 and #4 as he did not play 10+ years with the Yankees, nor has he been inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame

Jorge Posada (#20)

Breaks Criteria #4 as he has not been inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Don Mattingly (#23)

Breaks Criteria #3 and #4, as he did not win multiple championships pre-1993, nor was on multiple competitive teams post-1993; he has also not been inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Casey Stengel (#37)

Breaks Criteria #1 as his number was retired for his time as a manager.

Reggie Jackson (#44)

Breaks Criteria #2, as he did not spend 10+ years donning the Yankees pinstripes.

Andy Pettitte (#46)

Breaks Criteria #4 as he has not been inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Ron Guidry (#49)

Breaks Criteria #4 as he has not been inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Bernie Williams (#51)

Breaks Criteria #4 as he has not been inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

*Note: This list excludes both Thurman Munson (#15) and Elston Howard (#32), as their number retirements hold more weight and were two that exceptions were made for, as we discussed in Friday’s article.

 

Players/Managers Numbers that would be Added from the Four Criteria*:

Earle Combs (#1)

A New York Yankee centerfielder from 1924-1935, his 12-years in the pinstripes helped secure 3 World Championships in 1927, 1928, and 1932. He was inducted into the BBHOF in 1970, thus securing his own retired number in this system, which would end up replacing Billy Martin.

Tony Lazzeri (#6)

A New York Yankee infielder from 1926-1937, his 12-years in the pinstripes helped secure 5 World Championships in 1927, 1928, 1932, 1936, and 1937. He was inducted into the BBHOF in 1991, thus securing his own retired number in this system, which would end up replacing Joe Torre.

Lefty Gomez (#11)

A New York Yankee pitcher from 1930-1942, his 13-years in the pinstripes helped secure 5 World Championships in 1932 and each year from 1936 to 1939. He was inducted into the BBHOF in 1972, thus securing his own retired number in this system. This would be the only truly new number added.

Red Ruffing (#15)

A New York Yankee pitcher from 1930-1946 (he didn’t play in 1943 or 1944 due to World War II), his 15-years in the pinstripes helped secure 6 World Championships in 1932, each year from 1936-1939, and 1941. He was inducted into the BBHOF in 1967, thus securing his own retired number in this system, sharing it with Thurman Munson.

Waite Hoyt (Blank)*

A New York Yankee pitcher from 1921-1930, his 10-years in the pinstripes helped secure 3 World Championships in 1923, 1927, and 1928. He was inducted into the BBHOF in 1969, thus securing his own retired number in this system, which would go in unnumbered as he played most of his career before numbers were a part of the uniform.

Herb Pennock (Blank)**

A New York Yankee pitcher from 1923-1933, his 11-years in the pinstripes helped to secure 3 World Championships in 1923, 1927, 1928, and 1932. He was inducted into the BBHOF in 1948, thus securing his own retired number in this system, which would also go in unnumbered as he played most of his career before numbers were a part of the uniform.

* A case can definitely be made against Waite Hoyt as his 1930 season with the Yankees consisted of playing just 8 games before being traded to the Detroit Tigers, which if not counted would push him out of consideration.

** An interesting note to make, Baseball-Reference credits Herb Pennock with only 3 World Series rings instead of 4. This is because while he was a part of the 1928 World Championship winning New York Yankees, they used just 3 pitchers (Waite Hoyt [18 IP], George Pipgras [9 IP], and Tom Zachary [9 IP]) to complete the four-game sweep against the St. Louis Cardinals, as Pennock was injured. Help me share this article with Baseball-Reference so they can fix this small mistake by retweeting me, here.

 

My Closing Thoughts:

Given this new system, the Yankees would open up six numbers (#9, #20, #23, #37, #44, #46, #49, #51) while re-retiring three (#1, #6, #15), adding one new (#11), and two blanks. This would bring down the total retired numbers to 15, while still honoring 18 of the most famous and historic Yankees players.

Now, obviously this system isn’t perfect and leaves out the likes of many great Yankees of whom the history of the New York Yankees would be incomplete without mentioning like Reggie Jackson, Don Mattingly, and Dave Winfield. But, even so, it has been interesting to take a look at many historic Yankees names that have seen to be more greatly forgotten as time has gone on.

I definitely wouldn’t be in favor of trying to implement this system in real life. It would be a PR nightmare with the removal of different beloved Yankees players and managers, but after looking through this, and given how the Yankees already have a duplicate retired number with Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra (#8), I do think it would be cool to see some of the historic Yankees greats to have another moment to shine in the spotlight while being honored along with some other already-retired Yankees greats like Earle Combs, Tony Lazzeri, and Red Ruffing.

What do you think about this short thought-experiment? It’s definitely an interesting query and idea to work around as you try and create a fair system to honor the greats of yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

 

Article By: Ethan Semendinger

Original Posting Date: Sunday July 5th, 2020

#MonumentPark #RetiredNumbers

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