Number 21 returns to the field

Dodgers lead 5-0 in the 7th inning, who do you think Torre brings in?
With Pettitte out 6-8 weeks, Igawa to join rotation

While Morgan Ensberg couldn’t stand the heat he got for picking out Paul O’Neill’s former number, the long-dormant 21 will return to the field this week if the Yanks ever get to begin their season. LaTroy Hawkins, in an effort to honor Roberto Clemente, will don 21 this year, and Bryan Hoch traces the feelings surrounding O’Neill’s number. It will be interesting to see how Hawkins is received for taking what many Yankee fans believe is a number that belongs in the Yankee Pantheon. Hawkins has previously worn 32 and donned 22 with the Yanks in Spring Training. He grew tired of having Brian Bruney call him “Roger.” Doesn’t that sound endearing?

Dodgers lead 5-0 in the 7th inning, who do you think Torre brings in?
With Pettitte out 6-8 weeks, Igawa to join rotation
  • Rich

    I think Cano should go back to wearing #22.

  • mg

    LaTroy should take a number in the high 70s. He won’t be needing it long. Leave 21 be.

  • aaron

    i really couldn’t care less if latroy wears 21. I mean paul was a great player, and one of my favorites, I grew up watching him play, but you can’t retire every player’s number who does well with the yanks, and if your going to honor two of jeter bernie and oneil, i think paul has to go…

  • steve (different one)

    LaTroy should take 21 if he wants to honor O’Neill.

    the number isn’t retired.

    if the fans are upset, be upset with the Yankees, no LaTroy. all he is doing is selecting an available number.

    the treatment Ensberg got was ridiculous. like he said, he didn’t choose it. it was assigned.

    • steve (different one)

      and by “O’Neill”, i meant Clemente.

    • zack

      Well said. The notion that O’Neill’s # somehow has holy status or should be retired is frankly laughable. The sooner fans get used to seeing players wear #21 the better, cause it would pretty much invalidate monument park if 21 goes out there. At that point you have to add every fan favorite with decent #s out there…

  • Joey

    Taking #21 is fine with me. I love Paul and all, he was a great player for us and I truly appreciate everything he did, but can we really retire every player’s number that plays well for us as Aaron said we would have to go to fractions or something soon. Plus, is he really in the likes of Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, etc… Okay, thats not really fair because nobody is, but I think I made my point

  • steve (different one)

    yeah, i mean, i say that as a HUGE O’Neill fan.

    but really, the Yankees will already be retiring #2, #6, and #42.

    if you retire #21, you HAVE to retire #51.

    then what? what about #46?

    i assume #13 will be retired when all is said and done.

    where do you draw the line?

    • Manimal

      42 is already retired for Jackie Robinson. its just that they retired it after he began pitching with #42.

      Numbers are just numbers. Seriously. It about 40 years yankees will wear triple digits.

      • Manimal

        In* about.

      • steve (different one)

        you are right, but i think the yankees will retire it “again”.

        just like they have #8 retired twice.

    • dan

      Even with 21 being worn this year, it doesn’t mean that it can;t eventually be retired. Whether or not it should be retired, I really don’t know, but someone wearing it this season doesn’t really matter. It’s not like we’re gonna have a Dickey/Berra situation– I don’t see Hawkins having his number retired by the Yankees.

      • Joey

        Dan, I don’t think thats the argument thats developed here. The main one now is where do you draw the line. Are Paul, Bernie, etc.. all great players in their own right? Absolutely. Should the Yankees retire their numbers even if they aren’t the best of the best of the best (or whatever better way to phrase it)? There’s the real debate.

        Steve (different one) does a great job of outlining the domino effect retiring O-Neil’s number would create, along with the other numbers assumed to be retired within the next 20 years or whatever.

        • Ben K.

          I’m beginning to think that the Yankees should unretire most of their retired numbers, to tell you the truth. Why can’t we honor these players by hanging their numbers up in Monument Park but keeping them around for future generations? By all accounts, in a few years, the Yanks will have no single-digit numbers left and many of teens are taken as well. Where should they draw the line?

          • Casper

            Totally agree… We had a similar discussion back on 02/14, I just took a look back. Post was titled: “Yanks finally issue Paulie’s number.” The Yanks are in a unique situation in that they’ve retired so many numbers and may have to retire a few more (personally, I’d only go 2, 6, 42 (in addition to Jackie R.) from the recent crop of players). It’s not like there are rules about these things, the Yankees should just come up with a new system. I suggest they put retired numbers up somewhere to honor the players, but make a distinction between certain numbers that are “out of circulation” and certain numbers that may still be assigned to active players. You can honor the past without over-doing it. I said the following in response to the post back on 02/14:

            “Put all numbers back into circulation except 3, 4, 5, 7, 15, 42. Leave the other numbers up on the wall like they are, and add new numbers as appropriate (i.e. put 2 up there when Jeter retires).

            That way you’re honoring the past while also letting players wear numbers lower than 50. (I exaggerate… but there are already so many retired numbers and it’s only getting worse.)

            3, 4, 5, 7 and 42 for obvious reasons… Give the highest possible honor within the organization to the true highest-level of stars (plus 42 for Robinson per MLB rule/custom)… and I just like the idea of keeping 15 out of circulation to honor the fallen captain.”

  • Joey

    Asked the great Rob Neyer his opinion in his marathon chat just now, suprised he actually answered it:

    Joey (Orlando): Rob, there is a debate going on over at River Ave Blues (Yanks blog) over whether Paul O’Neil’s number should be retired. LaTroy is wearing 21 this year (the first player since Paulie retired) and it has some Yankee faithful very uncomfortable if not angry. Even though I love Paulie, where is the line drawn? I don’t have a problem with it. Your thoughts?

    ROB NEYER: It’s up to the Yankees, of course, but the bar for retiring a number should be set pretty high, and O’Neill doesn’t clear that bar. I do think the Yankees could have let the number lay fallow for a bit longer, though.

    • dan

      That seems to be the only way to limit it, really. Jeter, Bernie, Mo, and that’s it. If you include Paulie, then you have to include Pettitte, Posada. I think that the qualification for retiring should be, “the player was so great and influential that no player should ever wear his number again, in deference to that player’s honor.”

      Under that qualification, I don’t think that O’Neill, Pettitte and Posada make it. It has to end somewhere…. we will almost certainly see a-rod’s 13 retired, and quite possibly Cano if his career goes where many think it will.

      And what are they gonna do when Melky retires? ;)

      • Joey

        and Robby, Phil, Joba, and IPK!!! :) Well they’ll all be legit first ballot HOFers and no brainers to retire their jerseys anyway by the time they’re done

  • Joseph C.

    To be honest, I don’t think Bernie’s number should be retired either…

  • Adrian-Retire21

    Awesome Latroy is wearing Clemente’s number.A number soon to be retired in all of baseball.#21 is a great number because of Clemente not Paul O’Neil who is a great person to.

  • Jake T

    Wow, this conversation complled me to look up Bernie and O’Neil’s statistics. I never knew how uncannily close their career achievements were.

    BERNIE: .297 ave/ 287 home runs/ 1257 rbi’s/ 449 doubles/ 147 stolen bases
    ONEIL: .288 ave/ 281 home runs/ 1269 rbi’s/ 451 doubles/ 141 stolen bases

    The difference of course in debating the validity of retiring either of their numbers is that Bernie spent his entire career with the Yanks(16 seasons), while Oneil only spent 9 seasons with them, and 8 before that in Cincy.

    Both were also named to the All Star Team 5 times.
    That’s amazing.

    Personally I think Bernie should be retired, there is something so rare and special about a player of his caliber spending his entire career in one city. We owe it to him.

    • steve (different one)

      and of course Bernie played CF, not RF, which makes him the superior player.

  • barry

    Let Shelley wear it in honor of Paul O’Neill instead

  • Wolf Williams

    How about retiring jersies rather than numbers? I know the Yankees, thankfully, do not place player names on the uniforms, but to solve this business of retiring numbers, can’t we compromise and retire a jersy by putting the name above the number and placing the jersies somewhere in the new Stadium? After all, it’s a new stadium, why not a new way to recognize retired players?

    And God bless O’Neill and Bern-dog…… two all-timers in any Yankee fan’s book.

  • RichYF

    Is it just me, or has this debate completely changed? I swear it was only a few weeks ago when many were saying, “MORGAN ENSBERG WTF?!?!?” I may be mistaken, but it wasn’t just on LoHud (obviously it’s going to happen there). It seems like some people have warmed up to the idea of having #21 back in circulation. Correct me if I’m wrong, however.

    I was never convinced that Ensberg would wear #21 for the season. If I were a certain individual from a certain weblog, I’d have a link proving how right I am. But #1 I’m lazy, and #2 well, I’m still lazy.

    We can all agree that the Yanks have too many numbers retired, but should that prevent some great players from getting to monument park? Should enshrinement into the HoF be a credential to getting a number retired? If so, that definitely excludes Paulie O, Bernie, Donnie Baseball, Pettitte, Posada (?), etc.

  • Ian

    I started a Facebook group to rally around the cause:

    Nothing against LaTroy Hawkins the person, but the only way Yankee management will get it is if he is booed as long as he wears #21, regardless of how good he may end up being for the team.

    • stefan

      Wow. Sorry, but that’s kind of sad and pathetic.

      That’s like starting a group that agrees to boo Girardi whenever he walks out of the dugout, regardless of how good a manager he is, simply because he isn’t Joe Torre.

    • steve (different one)

      this is embarrassing.

    • Ben K.

      I’m not sure that booing a new player just because of his number is the message Yankee fans want to send to anyone.

      • steve (different one)

        seriously. it sends the message that Yankee fans will boo you even if you’re NOT the best player in the league.

  • DanElmaleh

    I remember thinking the same thing the first time I saw someone wear #31. It was a sad day; but there were no blogs to discuss it on and George always had it out for Dave Winfield; who was better (yes, as a Yankee) than Paule or Bernie.

    That being said, Bernie has a case because his entire career was with the Yankees and his and Mattingly’s numbers are not that divergent either.

    • steve (different one)

      Bernie was a better player than Mattingly. i’m always surprised how many Yankee fans seem to think otherwise.

  • pounder


  • Manimal

    TRIPLE! That makes me appreciate melky more.