April 15, 2011

It's Jackie Robinson Day, Everybody!

In 1997, Major League Baseball retired Jackie Robinson’s number 42.

Now, I didn’t need to tell any of you that, but did you know that even though teams couldn’t release the number…seven players still wore the number following the league-wide retirement?

Perhaps.

If you’ve ever checked out Craig Robinson’s brilliant website Flip Flop Fly Ball…you’ve no doubt seen his “42” chart. The “infographic” breaks down, by team, the last player to have don the number.

The list is varied and, as you would expect, so are the seven guys who wore the number following the retirement of Jackie Robinson’s iconic 42.

So on this eighth anniversary of “Jackie Robinson Day”…let’s remember the last seven guys to wear 42 in the Majors.

Butch Huskey (1993-2000)
Huskey exploded onto the New York scene in 1996 with the Mets, but never quite lived up to expectations. He was out of baseball before he even turned 30. Thanks to the grandfather clause, Huskey was allowed to wear Number 42 for as long as he wanted…he changed his number to 44 in 1999 while with the Red Sox, but then reverted to 42 with the Twins.

Lenny Webster (1989-2000)
Webster played for five different teams during his 12-year career, but only appeared in more than 100 games in one season…1998 with the Baltimore Orioles. The catcher is the last played to wear Number 42 for the O’s.

Scott Karl (1995-2000)
Primarily a starter throughout his six-year Major League career, Karl is the last player to have worn Number 42 for the Milwaukee Brewers. Most recently, he has been in venture capital.

Mo Vaughn (1991-2003)
Vaughn hit .293 over the span of his 12-year big league career. He hit 328 career home runs, took home the American League MVP in 1995 and has the unique distinction of being the last player to wear Number 42 for three different teams (Boston Red Sox, New York Mets and the, then Anaheim Angels). Currently, “The Hit Dog” is the owner of a trucking company outside of Cleveland.

Michael Jackson (1986-2004)
Journeyman reliever Jackson pitched for eight different teams during his 17-year career. His 1005 games played ranks him 13th all-time among pitchers…three more than Hall of Fame closer Goose Gossage. Jackson is tied with Paul Assenmacher for the most games pitched in the 1990s with 644. He is also the last player to wear Number 42 for the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians.

Jose Lima (1994-2006)
Lima’s personality was much bigger and brighter than his overall game. Sure, he went 21-10 and was an All-Star in 1999, but outside of that…dude was 89-102 with a 5.26 ERA for his career. Sadly, “Lima Time” was cut short when the pitcher dies last May. He was 37-years-old.

Mariano Rivera (1995-Present)
Enter Sandman. Now, if Jackie Robinson is the greatest hitter to have worn Number 42…pitcher Rivera might just be the best player to have worn the number on his back. At 564 career saves, he's 38 saves away from becoming the all-time leader in the category. Can he do it? “Mo” started the season 43 back and that’s a total he's topped six times in his career...so it isn't out of the realm of possibility.

As a sidenote, while baseball has retired Number 42 league-wide for Jackie Robinson…only one team has retired it for someone else.

In 2006, the St. Louis Cardinals retired the number for Hall of Fame closer Bruce Sutter.

Suffice it to say, whenever Rivera decides to hang up the spikes…he’ll have his number retired by the New York Yankees.

You can count on it.

Below is the graph listed above.  Click that sucker to make it bigger!


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