By Coach Jim Fowler
April 14, 2014
One way that sports’ teams honor their former players, coaches, and managers is to retire the uniform number that they wore during their career. These numerals are normally displayed in the team’s stadium in some manner, usually on the outfield fence or wall. The concept of retired numbers is an interesting one to study. Since the 2014 baseballs season is just starting, I’ll take a short look at their retired numbers.
The team with the most retired numbers, by far, is the New York Yankees. With 27 World Championships, it would make sense that the Yankees have had their share of great players, thus the retired numbers. The Yankees have 15 retired numbers and one of their numbers is retired for two players. The Yankee retired number list looks like this: 1-Billy Martin, 3-Babe Ruth, 4-Lou Gehrig, 5-Joe DiMaggio, 7-Mickey Mantle, 8-Yogi Berra and Bill Dickey, 9-Roger Maris, 10-Phil Rizzuto, 15-Thurman Munson, 16-Whitey Ford, 23-Don Mattingly, 32-Elston Howard, 37-Casey Stengel, 44- Reggie Jackson, 49-Ron Guidry.
The Yankees also have four other numbers that they have not circulated since the last player to wear them retired. Those numbers are 6-Joe Torre, 20-Jorge Posada, 21-Paul O’Neill, and 51-Bernie Williams. Whether they will ever officially retire those numbers is still uncertain, but it is surely possible. And don’t forget that Yankee great Mariano Rivera’s #42 was retired because that number was retired by all major league teams in honor of Jackie Robinson. And I think that it is almost a no-brainer that Derek Jeter will have his #2 retired in just a few years, if not sooner. The Yankees are gonna have a problem finding numbers for their current players if they keep retiring or not issuing numbers.
The Braves have ten retired numbers. Those are 3-Dale Murphy, 6-Bobby Cox, 10-Chipper Jones, 21-Warren Spahn, 29-John Smoltz, 31-Greg Maddux, 35-Phil Niekro, 41-Eddie Mathews, 44-Hank Aaron, and 47-Tom Glavine. All of those seem to be reasonable choices, but I don’t see anyone on the horizon to add to that list. McCann, probably not!
The Marlins, Nationals, Mariners, and Rockies have no retired numbers, although the Rockies will retire their first number in August when they honor Todd Helton’s #17. Some teams keep numbers out of circulation and don’t officially retire them. Examples of this are Pete Rose’s #14 with the Reds, Gary Carter’s #8 with the Mets, Mike Piazza’s #31, with the Mets and Ken Griffey’s #24 with the Mariners.
The most retired number is #20, which has been retired eight times and two numbers under 50, #46 and #48, have never been retired. Nine numbers have been retired only once. They are 13, 15, 22, 25, 28, 39, 43, 45, and 47. Can you name the players who wore these retired numbers?
Some teams also recognize their broadcasters by naming the press box after them or putting a significant symbol on the outfield fence. Some of these are the Dodgers’ Vin Scully, the Cardinals’ Jack Buck, the Giants’ Russ Hodges, the Brewers’ Bob Uecker, the Cubs’ Harry Carey, the Phillies’ Harry Kalas, the Tigers’ Ernie Harwell, and the Padres’ Jerry Coleman.
There is much more to be learned about this topic but there is not room here. This is a very interesting subject and more study will be fun.
I lost a real friend on Tuesday when Bill McGaha passed away. The fact that it was very unexpected makes it even tougher to handle. I first met Bill when we were in the local National Guard unit together. We became friends then, but that friendship really blossomed when he and his wife Gracie joined us at East Thomaston Baptist Church about 10-12 years ago.
Bill was a fun guy to talk to. We didn’t always agree but we had fun discussing many topics. He and Gracie always went on our fall church trips and they helped make these trips very enjoyable. Bill’s wry humor always stood out.
Bill was a true Georgia Tech fan! A perfect weekend for Bill was a win by Tech, a win by the Falcons, and a loss for the Georgia Bulldogs. Bill didn’t like Georgia and wasn’t too shy about letting everyone know it. He would always come up to me on Sunday morning after a Georgia loss and make some wry comment with a big smile on his face. Boy I’ll miss that!
Bill was a true friend - loyal, giving, caring, dependable, good-hearted and loving. It’s hard to find men like that today. All of us who knew and loved Bill will have a void in our lives now that he is gone. What better can be said about a man than that he was a God-fearing, Bible-believing Christian man who loved his family, friends, and church. I’m glad that he was my friend. Our community suffers today because of the loss of Bill McGaha.