LADY AT THE BAT: Yankees Coming Crisis: Available Uniform Numbers Are Vanishing

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Yankees Coming Crisis: Available Uniform Numbers Are Vanishing

Much of the discussion concerning the 2015 Yankees has been centered on the team's slow start and the return of Alex Rodriguez. But there is another issue lurking just beneath the surface: if they keep retiring numbers, the Yankees will eventually run out of uniform numbers to issue. Slated to be shelved permanently this season are the numbers of Bernie Williams (Number 51 on May 24), Jorge Posada (Number 20 on August 22) and Andy Pettitte (Number 46 on August 23). It appears there is a major crisis looming.
I have pondered this issue for quite some time and have arrived at a solution: Retire more numbers. What I mean, is that the Yankees should first consider retiring some of the same numbers they have already retired.  Some  retired numbers were previously worn by players who might also deserve a day at Yankee Stadium, so why not throw a celebration for some of these guys, too? This is a great way to celebrate the careers of former Yankees.      

So for example, number 1, retired for Billy Martin, was also worn by such Yankees as Bobby Murcer (before he was traded to the Giants in 1974), Bobby Richardson and even Hall of Famer Earle Combs.      
Number 2 (To be retired someday for Derek Jeter) was also worn by shortstop and long time third base coach Frank Crosetti, and star third baseman Red Rolfe.      
Number 6, retired for Joe Torre, was also worn by long time Yankee left fielder Roy White, along with second basemen and Cooperstown inductees Joe Gordon and Tony Lazzeri.     
Number 9, retired for Roger Maris,  was also worn by third baseman Graig Nettles, plus Hank Bauer and Charlie Keller.      
The good news is that at least we would have a lot of celebrations if, say they were to retire about three of these numbers a year. The bad news is that it doesn't solve the problem. The Yankees are still running out of numbers. Maybe they could consider issuing  0 or double zero, or use numbers from 01 to 09. Then there is the thought of triple digit numbers. I think I would like to meet the player that chooses 007.  
Another solution is to simply revert back to not having numbers once they run out. It was in April 1929 that numbers first adorned the backs of Yankee players, the first such team to do so. That means the Muderer's Row team of 1927, often regarded as baseball's greatest team ever, did not have uniform numbers. They did quite well without them. And why did it become necessary to have numbers in the first place? Perhaps it was to help identify the players better when keeping score at the ballpark? And who still keeps score at the ball park these days? (Well, I do. Besides me, I mean.). Most people interested in the box score can pull out their iPhone and there you have it in an instant. And if you don't have an iPhone there are electronic boards all around the parks that have who's batting, pitching, on deck, warming up in the bullpen and so on.
But retire away all those numbers, I say. Nothing beats a great celebration at the Stadium.      

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