Last Yankees to Wear the Numbers

Before they were retired, of course — or before the players for whom they were retired wore them.

I’m also including numbers that will be retired, or should be.

1 Bobby Murcer, CF, 1974. Retired for Billy Martin, 2B, 1950-57; MGR, on and off 1975-88.

2 Mike Gallego, SS, 1994. Will be retired for Derek Jeter, SS, 1995-present.

3 Cliff Mapes, OF, 1948. Retired for Babe Ruth, RF, 1920-34.

4 Lou Gehrig, 1B, 1939. Retired for him. Only Yankee ever to wear it.

5 Nick Etten, 1B, 1945. Wore it while Joe DiMaggio was serving in World War II. Retired for DiMaggio, CF 1936-51.

6 Clete Boyer, 3B, 1961-66 (previously wore 34); coach, 1988, 1992-94. Last player to wear it, Steve Sax, 2B, 1989-91. Will be retired for Joe Torre, MGR, 1996-2007.

7 Cliff Mapes, OF, 1949-51. Yes, the same guy who was the last to wear 3 before it was retired for the Babe. Retired for Mickey Mantle, CF, 1951-68.

8 Aaron Robinson, C, 1945-47. Retired for Bill Dickey, C, 1928-46; MGR, 1946; coach, 1949-60 (wore 33 then); and for Yogi Berra, C, 1946-63 (started out wearing 35); MGR, 1964 and 1984-85; coach, 1975-83.

9 Graig Nettles, 3B, 1973-83. Retired for Roger Maris, RF, 1960-66.

10 Rick Cerone, C, 1980-84 (and would later return and wear other numbers). Retired for Phil Rizzuto, SS, 1941-56; broadcaster, 1957-96.

15 Tom Tresh, LF, 1961-69. Retired for Thurman Munson, C, 1969-79.  Tommy Henrich, RF 1937-50 and a fantastic player, wore both 7 and 15, but neither was retired for him.

16 Ernie Nevel, P, 1950-51. Only wore it for 3 games before being sent down, wore 26 upon his return. Retired for Whitey Ford, P, 1950-67. (Wore 19 when he first came up, missed ’51 & ’52 seasons due to Korean War service, got 16 when he returned and never looked back.)

20 Mike Aldrete, OF, 1996.  Should be retired for Jorge Posada, C, 1995-2011 (wore a few numbers before 20).

21 LaTroy Hawkins, P, 2008.  Got booed for wearing it.  Switched to Roger Clemens’ 22, and was not booed for it.  Last player other than its eventual honoree to wear this number full-time was Scott Sanderson, pitcher, 1991-92. Will be retired for Paul O’Neill, RF, 1993-2001.

23 Don Zimmer, coach, 1983.  Last player to wear it, Barry Foote, C, 1981-82.  Retired for Don Mattingly, 1B, 1982-95; coach, 2004-07. (Wore 46 his first season.)

32 Ralph Houk, C, 1947-54.  (Wore 34 when he managed, 1961-63 and 1966-73.) Retired for Elston Howard, C, 1955-67; coach, 1969-80.

37 Bucky Harris, MGR, 1947-48.  Only 2 players ever wore it, both in 1946: Herb Karpel and Gus Niarhos.  Karpel pitched 2 games, on April 19 and 20, the extent of his major league career, and wasn’t even the greatest ’46 Yankee who went to Richmond Hill High School in Queens in the late 1930s — he was a teammate there of Rizzuto.  Niarhos, a backup catcher from Birmingham, Alabama, was also a rookie in ’46, but had a much longer career, sticking with the Yankees until 1950, winning a World Series ring in 1949, and last played in 1955 with the Philadelphia Phillies.  Retired for Casey Stengel, MGR, 1949-60.

42 Mike Brown, coach, 1994.  Last player to wear it, John Habyan, P, 1991-93.  Also worn by Jerry Coleman, 2B, 1949-57; broadcaster, 1963-70.  Retired for Mariano Rivera, P, 1995-2013.

44 Mike Ferraro, coach, 1991.  Mainly worn by coaches before Mr. October arrived.  Last player to wear it, Terry Whitfield, LF, 1975-76.  He also wore 51 long before Bernie, and went on to play 4 decent seasons with the San Francisco Giants, where he had to switch from 44 to 45 because of Willie McCovey.  Retired for Reggie Jackson, RF, 1977-81.

46 Terry Mulholland, P, 1994.  A very good pitcher, normally wore 45 in his career, but Danny Tartabull was then wearing that on the Yankees.  Will be retired for Andy Pettitte, P, 1995-2013.

49 Kerry Dineen, CF, 1975.  Wore it for 7 games, got sent down, returned the next season wearing 47, played 4 games, got traded to the Phillies, played 5 games with them, and that was it.  Retired for Ron Guidry, P, 1975-88.

51 Chuck Cary, P, 1989-91.  Will be retired for Bernie Williams, CF, 1991-2006.

You’ll notice I haven’t included Number 24.  Whether it is retired for Robinson Cano, already the greatest 2nd baseman in team history, largely depends on how this contract situation works out.  If he leaves, I don’t think it will be retired — not for Robbie, not for Tino Martinez, not for anyone else.

As for Number 13, for Alex Rodriugez, I don’t know.  But Roger Clemens’ 22 is still in circulation.

Then again, so are Lefty Gomez’s 11 and Allie Reynolds’ 22, and they have Monument Park plaques.  (Red Ruffing has a plaque, but his 15 is retired for Munson.) So are Waite Hoyt’s 11, Herb Pennock’s 16, Catfish Hunter’s 29, Dave Winfield’s 31 and Goose Gossage’s 54, and they’re in the Hall of Fame.  So are Lou Piniella’s 14, Willie Randolph’s 30, David Cone’s 36 and Hideki Matsui’s 55.  And none of those guys disgraced themselves the way A-Rod and Clemens did.

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Yankees Honor Mariano, Then Dishonor His Generation of Yankees

On occasions like Old-Timers’ Day or the retirement of a uniform number, the current players owe it to the former players to put up a good fight.  Not necessarily to win, but to at least look like they’re trying to win.

Yesterday was Mariano Rivera Day, the first “day” for a player at the new Yankee Stadium.  The Yankees honored Mariano with the retirement of his uniform number 42, and the presentation of a few gifts.  (Implicit in this is the eventual dedication of a Plaque in his honor at Monument Park, but they can’t cast the Plaque until his career truly is over, and they have final statistics that they can put on it.)

On hand were many representatives of the 1996-2003 Yankee Dynasty: Joe Torre, Bernie Williams, Paul O’Neill, Jorge Posada, Tino Martinez, David Cone, John Wetteland, Jeff Nelson, Hideki Matsui.  And, of course, the still-active Derek Jeter and yesterday’s starting pitcher, the also-retiring Andy Pettitte.

Also on hand were members of the family of Jackie Robinson, for whom Number 42 was retired throughout baseball, with the provision that players then wearing it could continue to do so for the rest of their careers.  And, 16 years later, Mariano is the last one.  A Plaque was unveiled in Monument Park honoring Jackie, making him the first player who never played for the Yankees to be honored there.  (Jackie is, of course, a part of the history of the old Yankee Stadium, having played World Series games there for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, ’49, ’52, ’53, ’55 and ’56 — most notably stealing home plate in Game 1 in ’55.)

The opposing San Francisco Giants also presented Mo with a gift.  Their pitching coach is Dave Righetti, who had been the Yankees’ all-time saves leader until Mo surpassed him.  “Rags” never won a Series with the Yankees (though he was a part of the 1981 Pennant as a rookie starter), but he’s helped the Giants win 2 of the last 3 World Series.  (They won’t make the Playoffs this time.)

With all that talent on hand, you’d think the Yankees would have at least put up an effort.

*

Certainly, Pettitte did.  He had a perfect game going until the 5th inning, before walking a batter, who was subsequently erased in a double play.

And then, on WCBS — the Yankees have announced they’ll be on WFAN next season — John Sterling said the N-word.

No, not that N-word.  Not the one that Jackie Robinson faced time and time again in his struggle first to integrate baseball, then to make it fully integrated, and later to make it more fair for those who integrated it.  Sterling said, “Andy Pettitte has pitched a no-hitter through 5 innings.”

It’s one of “the unwritten rules of baseball” that you do not say the word “no-hitter” while one is in progress, because it will jinx the pitcher.  You can say, “He hasn’t allowed any hits.” Or, “He is pitching hitless baseball.” Or, “No (member of the opposing team) has gotten a hit yet.” Anything, so long as the word “no-hitter” is not used.  (Author John Thorn, who’s written a bunch of books about baseball and is now MLB’s Official Historian, once wrote, “Strangely, the words ‘perfect game’ can be spoken without similar effect.”)

But Sterling said, “no-hitter.”

I’ve heard broadcasters use the word plenty of times.  When Andy Hawkins had one going for the Yankees against the Chicago White Sox in 1990, Phil Rizzuto used the word on WPIX-Channel 11 many times.  Hawkins kept the no-hitter, but he walked a few batters, and errors by Mike Blowers at 3rd base, Jim Leyritz in left field (he was a rookie and had never played the position before) and Jesse Barfield (normally a great fielder but he lost the ball in the Comiskey Park sun) led to 4 ChiSox runs.  Hawkins pitched 8 innings — with the home team winning, a bottom of the 9th was not necessary — and allowed no hits, but lost, 4-0.  A candidate for the strangest game I’ve ever seen, right up there with that 4th of July marathon the Mets played in Atlanta in 1985.

At least 5 times, on YES, Michael Kay has used the word “no-hitter” and jinxed a game.  Usually, when something like that happens, it doesn’t matter: The pitcher gives up a hit, and still wins.  Sometimes, with help from the bullpen.  But it usually only costs the pitcher’s team the no-hitter, not the game.

This time, Sterling said, “Andy Pettitte has pitched a no-hitter through 5 innings.” Naturally, in the 6th, Andy allowed a hit, and then a run.

That wouldn’t have been a big deal, except it was only 1-0 Yankees at that point.  Mark Reynolds, who drove the Yankees so crazy last year for the Baltimore Orioles and has been a good pickup this year, hit a home run.

Andy pitched into the 8th, but allowed the runner that would decide the game.  Joe Girardi pulled him, and, to a standing ovation, left the mound at Yankee Stadium (either one) as an active pitcher for the last time.  (Assuming he doesn’t get injured, he has one more start this season, it’s on the road, and he will not be pitching in the Playoffs.  No current Yankee will.)

David Robertson couldn’t prevent the run from scoring, and Girardi had to bring Mo in for a 5-out save.  Bringing him in for more than a 3-out save is always a risk, as he has been damn near unhittable for 3 outs since 1997, but for more than that, he’s had his troubles.  (It’s why, when people call him “the greatest relief pitcher ever,” you have to consider the guys in the pre-Dennis Eckersley days who pitched the last 2, 3, even 4 innings of games, including Yankee stars Joe Page, Luis Arroyo, Sparky Lyle and Goose Gossage.) Mo got the 5 outs without making it any worse.

But the Yankees didn’t get the job done with the bats.  Until Reynolds led off the 3rd with his homer, the Yankees had no baserunners.  Ichiro Suzuki drew a 2-out walk that inning, but got caught stealing.  Robinson Cano singled with 1 out in the 4th, but was stranded.  Brendan Ryan doubled with 2 out in the 5th, but was stranded.  With 2 out in the 6th, Cano singled and Alfonso Soriano walked, but Curtis Granderson struck out.

Eduardo Nunez led off the 7th with a single.  Reynolds struck out.  Ryan singled, but a reliever came in and struck out Vernon Wells and Ichiro.

Alex Rodriguez led off the 8th with a single, and Cano doubled pinch-runner Zoilo Almonte to 3rd.  But Soriano grounded to 3rd, and Almonte was thrown out at home, leaving runners on 1st and 2nd with 1 out.  Granderson struck out again.  Nunez singled, but Cano tried to score and was thrown out at home.  And the Yankees went out meekly, 1-2-3, in the bottom of the 9th.

Giants 2, Yankees 1.  This is not the right way to honor Mariano.  Indeed, it was as if an entire generation of Yankees had seen everything they worked for planted firmly in the past, with the present a mess and the future a mist.

*

So here is where Major League Baseball stands, with 1 week remaining in the regular season:

* The Boston Red Sox have clinched the American League East.  The Oakland Athletics have clinched the AL West.  The Detroit Tigers have a Magic Number of 2 to clinch the AL Central.

* If the current Wild Card standings hold, the Tampa Bay Rays will get the 1st AL berth, and the Cleveland Indians the 2nd.  The Texas Rangers are a game and a half back, the Kansas City Royals 3 1/2, the Yankees 4, and the Baltimore Orioles 4 1/2.

* The Yankees’ elimination number is 3: Any combination of Yankee losses and Cleveland wins adding up to 3, and the Yankees don’t make the Playoffs, for only the 2nd time in the last 19 seasons.  And since the Indians have 3 home games against the Chicago White Sox followed by 3 road games against the Minnesota Twins, who have already lost 94 and 90 games, respectively, and the Yankees still have to play 3 home games against the Rays before closing with 3 games at the Houston Astros (whose 105 losses are easily the most in the majors), it seems incredibly unlikely that the Yankees can make it.  Even if the Indians do take a nosedive, the Rangers would also have to lose a good chunk of their last 7 games to give the Yankees a shot, and they’re playing the hopeless Astros.  So Yogi Berra can safely call Girardi and say, “It’s over.”

* The Atlanta Braves have clinched the National League East. The Los Angeles Dodgers have clinched the NL West.  The St. Louis Cardinals have a Magic Number of 5 to clinch the NL Central, but the Cincinnati Reds and the Pittsburgh Pirates are both only 2 games back, so that race is hardly decided.

* The Reds and Pirates, in addition to still having a shot to overtake the Cardinals for the NL Central, currently hold the 2 NL Wild Card slots.  The Washington Nationals are 5 games behind them, and are almost certainly out of it.

Oh well, my fellow Yankee Fans.  We didn’t give it a good shot, and we lose Mariano and Andy, and we have the unresolved A-Rod situation, and rumors are running rampant that Jeter will only play one more year, due to his contract situation.  And CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda really tailed off.  And we don’t know if Ivan Nova can keep up his comeback.  And we don’t really have a 5th starter.  And Robertson hasn’t exactly looked like a worthy successor to Mariano the last couple of years.  And, at least for the moment, we still have Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and Boone Logan stinking up the bullpen.  And Joe Girardi refuses to throw out his binder, and with George Steinbrenner dead, it doesn’t look like he’s about to be fired.  And Kevin Long is still the hitting instructor.  And Brian Cashman is still the general manager.  And the hated Red Sox won the Division.

Not good.

Oh well, you’ve still got the New York Football Giants to root for, right?

Not really: As legendary WCBS-Channel 2 sportscaster Warner Wolf would say, “If you had the Giants and 37 points, you lost! Come on, give me a break!”

Top 10 Andy Pettitte Moments

Andy Pettitte announced his retirement today.  For the second time.  Effective at the end of this season.

I’m gonna miss this guy.  Two years ago, the first time the Hooded Hawk retired, I wrote this for the previous version of my blog.  It does not need to be updated.

*

There is no pitcher who has thrown more pitches with me actually in the ballpark than Andrew Eugene Pettitte of Deer Park, Texas. Except for Mariano Rivera, there is no pitcher who has appeared in more games with me on hand. And no pitcher has more postseason wins.

Time to salute this important figure in Yankee History – recent and overall.

Top 10 Andy Pettitte Moments

10. August 2, 1999. This one is personal, so I put it at Number 10. It was the 20th Anniversary of the death of Thurman Munson, and I felt that I had to be at Yankee Stadium (the original) on the night.

The Yanks played the Toronto Blue Jays. Diana Munson threw out the first ball. Andy was making his first start since the trading deadline, when Joe Torre convinced George Steinbrenner not to trade him, and George said we’d “find out what kind of man he is.”

Pitching for the Jays was David Wells, a tough opponent no matter what uniform he was bursting out of.

Andy proved his point, and Joe’s, and mine and that of anyone else who wanted to keep him. Yanks 3, Jays 1. Andy goes 8, and so does Boomer, but a Derek Jeter homer in the bottom of the 8th settled it.

9. October 9, 2003, ALCS Game 2. The Boston Red Sox had won Game 1 at Yankee Stadium, so, as had so often happened, the Yankees needed Andy to turn things around. He did, holding the Sox off long enough for the bats to kick in. Yankees 6, Red Sox 2. The series was tied, and the Yanks went on to win the Pennant on Aaron Boone’s home run.

8. September 18, 1996. Beats the Baltimore Orioles, 3-2 at Yankee Stadium, for his 20th win of the season. He wins a 21st on September 28, 4-2 over the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. This made him the youngest Yankee pitcher to win 20 (or 21) games in a season since Jim Bouton in 1963. In other words, the youngest in my lifetime.

Andy would win 21 again in 2003.  In the 10 years since then, how many pitchers have won 21 games in a season? 12.  Only 5 of those are lefthanded.  And only one of those 12 (or one of those 5) has pitched for a New York team, the Yankees’ CC Sabathia in 2010.  The last Met pitcher to win at least 21 games in a season? Dwight Gooden in 1985.  The last Met lefty to do it? Only 1 Met lefty has ever done it, Jerry Koosman in 1976.

7. September 21, 2008. There was only one man – well, only one man left, anyway – who could start the last game at the old Yankee Stadium. Andy held off the Orioles long enough for the bullpen to take over, and the Yankees won, 7-3.

6. October 21, 1998, World Series Game 4. The Yanks already led the San Diego Padres 3 games to 0, and baseball teams don’t blow such leads in the postseason. (Unless the other team cheats.) Andy went 7 innings at Jack Murphy Stadium (or whatever it was being called then), and Jeff Nelson and Rivera finished up. Yanks 3, Padres 0, and the 24th World Championship was won.

5. October 17, 1999, ALCS Game 4. The day before, the Yanks had gotten clobbered by the Red Sox at Fenway Park, 13-1, and they needed to stop The Scum’s momentum.

Andy did the job, bending but not breaking. The score was 3-2 Yankees when Mariano relieved Andy in the 8th. A Boston pitching and fielding meltdown in the 9th led to 6 runs and a final score of 9-2, as the Red Sox fans – as usual, blaming the umpires for their team’s failures – threw loads of garbage onto the field.

The Yanks won the Pennant the next day, and the Game 3 loss turned out to be the only game they lost in that postseason, going 11-1 and taking their 25th World Championship.

4. October 26, 2000, World Series Game 5. In Game 1 of the only real Subway Series since 1956, Andy had been outpitched by the Mets’ Al Leiter, but the Yanks won anyway.

This time, the same 2 pitchers went at it, and when Leiter finally tired in the 9th, the Yanks won, 4-2, to clinch their 26th World Championship. Andy pitched well for 7 innings, although he was not the winning pitcher – that was Mike Stanton. But Andy kept the Mets at bay long enough for the Yankee bats to win it, giving them a World Series triumph they absolutely had to have.

If we had lost a World Series to the Mets, nothing in the Yankees’ past would have meant anything. But since we DID beat the Mets in a World Series, there’s nothing any Met fan can say anymore that has any meaning. Andy was a big part of making that happen.

3. October 13, 1996, ALCS Game 5. Pitches 8 innings as the Yankees beat the Orioles, 6-4 at Camden Yards, to clinch their first Pennant in 15 years.

2. November 4, 2009, World Series Game 6. Outpitches Pedro Martinez and shuts down the potent lineup of the defending World Champion Philadelphia Phillies. The Yankees win, 7-3 – interestingly enough, the same score as the last game at Yankee Stadium I – and win their 27th World Championship, their first at Yankee Stadium II.

In so doing, Andy became the first pitcher ever to start and win the clinching games of all 3 postseason series in one season. (Derek Lowe had won all 3 clinchers for the 2004* Red Sox, but didn’t start all 3.)

1. October 24, 1996, World Series, Game 5. He already got rocked by the Atlanta Braves in Game 1 at The Stadium, but the Yanks managed to tie the Series anyway. In the last game that would ever be played at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium (win or lose), if he hadn’t gotten this right, most of the others wouldn’t have happened.

He gets it right, getting out of a big jam in the 5th but fielding 2 grounders: One, he throws to 3rd base to get the lead runner; the other, he throws to 2nd base to start an inning-ending double play. He pitches 8 innings of 5-hit shutout ball, and the Yankees beat the Braves, 1-0. Two days later, the Yankees win their 23rd World Championship, their first in 18 years.

Andy was only 24 years old, but had won a bigger game than most pitchers will ever get into.

There would be more big games for Andy Pettitte. Now, there will still be big games, but he will not be a part of them, save as a spectator.

Andy, you’re one of us now. I wish I could say that was a good thing.