April 3, 2012

Ten Numbers That Must Be Retired

***Originally featured over at Sully Baseball.***

Most of the times, Major League teams do a pretty good job retiring the numbers of legendary players and managers. A fan favorite returns to the ballpark, their name and number are displayed permanently and a great career is celebrated.

But among the many retired numbers throughout baseball, there are some notable and sometimes strange omissions.

Our good friend “Sully” has the ten most egregious snubs that should be fixed this year.


26 - Wade Boggs, Boston Red Sox
According to the team’s website, the Red Sox only retire numbers for Hall of Famers who played ten years in Boston. Well, Boggs meets both standards.

Why isn’t his uniform retired?

Why have Wes Chamberlain, Alejandro Pena, Aaron Sele, Orlando Merced, Chris Snopek, Rob Stanifer, Sean Berry, Freddy Sanchez and Ramiro Mendoza all worn Number 26 for the Red Sox since Boggs left?  Yeah I loved Lou Merloni too, but he wasn’t a Hall of Famer.

Was it because he went to the Yankees? He was non-tendered! The Red Sox, in their infinite wisdom, just cut him loose. And he clearly cared about playing in Boston. Who else was crying in the dugout?

Sure he had an affair…I have a feeling he wasn’t the only one. Retire Number 26 already!


25 - Bonds, San Francisco Giants
Bonds? Which Bonds? Is it for Bobby? For Barry?  Let’s avoid all controversy and have it just say “BONDS”.

For those of you who don’t want to honor the family name “Bonds”, let me ask you two questions? Do you like that great ballpark by China Basin? You think that would have been built if not for Number 25?

I think that is worth not having anyone wear Number 25 again.


8 - Gary Carter, New York Mets
Of all the massive blunders the Mets have made recently, the most unforgivable is not retiring Number 8 before Gary Carter passed away.

We all learned that the heart of the greatest team in Mets history (and the man who started the rally in Game Six of the 1986 World Series) was dying last spring. They had almost a whole season to organize a Gary Carter Day and give Met fans a chance to cheer him and immortalize Number 8.

It would have been the only reason to go to a Mets game in 2011!

Instead any honor given to The Kid will be posthumous. Retire his number. The 1986 team needs to have at least one name immortalized.


54 - Rich Gossage, New York Yankees
Any conversation about the greatest reliever of all time would have to include the “Goose”.  He pitched before there were setup men and specialists. He threw long saves and piled up relief innings.

One of the few relievers in the Hall of Fame, Gossage clinched the 1978 ALCS and World Series, but neither were his biggest game that year. He came into the one-game playoff against the Red Sox in the seventh inning.

It wasn’t his prettiest line (he let up two runs in 2.2 innings) but saving the “Bucky Dent Game” was no doubt his sweetest save.


29 - Satchel Paige, Cleveland Indians
The great Paige, one of the great pitchers of all-time, only spent a few years in Cleveland (picking up his World Series ring) and his best big league years were for the St. Louis Browns.

But one of the great and legendary figures in baseball history does not have his number retired. That isn’t right, and can be easily corrected.

And if it makes young fans ask “who was Satchel Paige?” then that isn’t such a bad thing either!


29 - Dan Quisenberry, Kansas City Royals
“Quiz” is no longer with us, but his legacy in Kansas City still is. He had a better career than I remembered with a look at his stats (compare him to Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter!). 

And remember the Royals lost the 1976, 1977 and 1978 ALCS to the Yankees because of their uncertain bullpen. But the Royals beat the Yankees in 1980 with the arrival of “Quiz”, who also was the closer in the Royals lone World Series win.


50 - J.R. Richard, Houston Astros
For a team that has a grand total of one pennant in their history, the Astros have a lot of retired numbers. Yet, oddly, they have left Richard out of their roll call.

Seriously, how is his number not retired? He was on his way to a Hall of Fame career.  A healthy J.R. Richard with Nolan Ryan wins the 1980 pennant! Maybe the 1981 World Series! He would have dominated the National League into the new decade…if he hadn’t had the stroke.

The Astros retired Don Wilson and Jim Umbricht’s numbers after tragedies. So why not J.R.? He is still alive, and any ill will he had, was with ownership that has long since sold the team. New owner Jim Crane should correct this stupid omission.


34 - Dave Stewart, Oakland Athletics
To casual observers, the great A’s run in the late 1980s and 1990s happened because of the strength of Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire. Others might say it was on the consistency of Dennis Eckersley or on the legs of Rickey Henderson.  But those closely following the team knew that the leader of the team was Dave Stewart.

“Stew” was a journeyman spot starter but Tony La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan transformed him into a legit Cy Young contender.

Consistently good for 20 wins a year, Stewart won two postseason MVP awards (1989 World Series MVP and 1990 ALCS MVP). Plus the Oakland native gave back to the city with his charity work, much of which he did with little publicity.

Yes, Number 34 is retired in Oakland in honor of Rollie Fingers. Shame on the A’s for issuing that number after Fingers left. But the Yankees retired Number 8 for two players (Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra). Why can’t the A’s honor two players who wore Number 34?


34 - Fernando Valenzuela, Los Angeles Dodgers
The ripple effect of “Fernandomania” is still felt in Chavez Ravine. Walk around Dodger Stadium during a game and Number 34 is still one of the most popular jerseys worn by fans.  He remains one of the most loved Dodgers of all-time. He still gets a huge ovation when the camera catches him in the Spanish language radio booth.

Nobody has worn Number 34 since he stopped being a Dodger. Why not make it official? He isn’t getting into the Hall of Fame, but it is safe to say a “Fernando Day” will draw quite a crowd.


14 - Anonymous, Cincinnati Reds
Only one person has worn Number 14 since Pete Rose’s suspension. That would be Pete Rose Jr. during his eleven game call-up with the 1997 Reds.

The Reds should just retire the number without any ceremony. Just hang Number 14 up with the other retired numbers in Cincinnati.

Fred Hutchinson, Johnny Bench, Willard Hershberger, Joe Morgan, Sparky Anderson, Dave Concepcion, Ted Kluszewski, Frank Robinson and Tony Perez are all honored.  So should the greatest Red of them all, even if his name must not be mentioned.

***Sully’s insightful (often hilarious) videos can be found on the Sully Baseball Channel on YouTube.***


9 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Red Sox also have a rule that a player should retire as a Red Sox to have his # retired Boggs played for the Yankees and Rays after his time in Boston. (Carlton Fisk, after years in Chicago, had a position in the Red Sox offices when they retired #27).

Anonymous said...

Also.....I believe that #3 should be retired throughout baseball. If the Babe is always being brought up as the Best, well, then when will he get the recognition that Jackie Robinson, Number 42 got ????

J.C. said...

Great post. And good point about Carter and the Mets. Surprising to realize that not one player from that team has been honored to such an extent.

DawgDaze said...

MLB has got to get over the Pete Rose thing...the fans want to see him honored as one of,if not the best hitter ever,Charlie Hustle belongs in the Hall and Im sure Cincy fans want to see his # hanging ABOVE all the #s mentioned in this article,Cmon MLB get rid of Bud Selig and forgive Pete.

Anonymous said...

who came up with that line up what a joke

Anonymous said...

They played, heard the roars of the fans and received more money than the average fan. Remember them if you want. Now it is all about money and enhancing drugs. Not like the Bums, the Brooklyn Dodgers, Milwaukee
Braves who played the games for love and small change. Now it a foreign games with very little Americans playing in it. Who cares about retiring a number. Just RESTORE CHARLIE HUSLE, Mr. Pete Rose, Mr Baseball, name back to go to the Hall of Fames.

Anonymous said...

No to Pete Rose EVER being allowed into the good graces of baseball. He broke the most well-known rule of baseball, and bet on SOME of his teams games. I might have more sympathy if this pathological gambler bet on the Reds every day that he was managing them.

Anonymous said...

I don't care what Pete Rose did. All he did for baseball was give 110% percent for the teams he played for.
14 should be retired in Cincy and Philly in spite of what MLB says!!

Anonymous said...

#14 is retired in philly, Jim Bunning