Vote on retiring O’Neill’s 21

Missing Joba
Moose season in the American League

For days and days and days, we’ve debated the LaTroy Hawkins Number Fiasco. It seems clear to me that Yankee fan opinion is firmly divided on the fate of Paul O’Neill’s 21. So submitted for your approval — and since we haven’t done one of these in a while — a poll. Play nicely with each other in the comments if you wish to continue the debate.

Should the Yankees retire Paul O'Neill's number 21?
Total Votes: 854 Started: April 18, 2008 Back to Vote Screen
Missing Joba
Moose season in the American League
  • Kanst

    I really dont get the sentiment for retiring O’Neill if you do that it opens the door to a lot of borderling guys getting their number retired.

    When I think about retiring a jersey the measuring stick I use is, can you argue that they could be in the hall without sounding like a moron. On top of that they have to be known as Yankees. The guys dont have to be hall of famers per se but you have to be able to craft at least a decent argument that they should be. Examples:

    Bernie Williams passes the test
    Mike Mussina fails, since he will be remembered by most as an Oriole
    Tino Martinez fails, if you argued that he should be in the hall I would laugh at you
    Jorge Posada passes, given a few more 15-20 homer .270-.280 average years his numbers will be solidly on the cusp of the hall
    Lastly Paul O’Neill fails, sure he was a fiery guy, he kicked some watercoolers and he was on our great championship run, but he just wasnt that fantastic.

    He played 8 seasons with the Yanks had one phenomenal year (strike shortened ’94) three very good years and a bunch of above average ones. He hit well in the playoffs (although his World Series numbers are pedestrian). With all of this he wasnt the kind of player we should be retiring. Look at his numbers hes pretty much Bobby Abreu minus some speed and plate discipline and a little power.

    People like Oneill because he was fiery and he played hard, thats great but we cant retire the number of every yankee we liked.

  • Sciorsci

    This is almost an “are you kidding?” question, except after seeing Yankees fans’ collective reaction to the Yankees reissuing #21, I know that you’re not at all kidding.

    For anyone who voted “yes” I have a question: do you really think Paul O’Neill, regardless of how instrumental he was to those WS teams of the late ’90s, deserves to have his number alongside Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, Berra, etc.?

    As it is, the Yankees already have too many numbers retired. Reggie Jackson? Phil Rizzuto? Billy Martin? Ron Guidry? These guys were all good to great, but the Yankees are supposed to be about more than just greatness; retiring a Yankee number should be reserved for the true immortals.

    Otherwise, I suppose Yankees will once again pioneer a uniform trend (they were, after all, the first to wear numbers in the first place) – a third digit on their backs.

  • Rob NY

    Defenitely no to Cincinnati Paul. Maybe to Bernie.

  • E-ROC

    Uh, no.

  • question mark

    very good player, but not an all-time great Yankee. more of a puzzle piece on the world’s greatest puzzle. still someone i think of just as much as a Red. i even think of Reggie as a Yankee first.

    i find it funny that, all of a sudden, it’s no big deal that he’s now wearing Clemens’ number. how quickly the tide changes. not that it should be a big deal either…

  • Mike A.

    Ruth. Gehrig. DiMaggio. Mantle. Berra. Ford. O’Neill.

    Which one of these things doesn’t belong?

    • Count Zero

      Yep. And I would add that you can replace O’Neill with Williams or Posada and it’s still the odd name out. In my mind, a retired number (especially on the Yankees where there are so many) belongs to a first ballot HOFer — or at least very close to it. Jeter, Mo and A-Rod all have legitimate shots at the honor — no other Yankee of the past decade does.

      • ceciguante

        whoa, count! i dunno about a-rod or this first ballot HOF standard you use.
        at risk of stirring up some friday controversy, a-rod played for 8 full years with the M’s and rangers…he’s only starting his 5th with the yanks. i know he’s signed on to play forever with the yanks, and i agree that o’neill wasn’t the illustrious performer those other guys on the wall were (or that arod is now)…but as of today, o’neill is more of a yankee in my eyes than alex. which is not to say i put his number on the wall, just that “first ballot HOF” isn’t my standard of choice. for example, mattingly’s number belongs on the wall, for his excellence and the way he played the game. and i think that’s why fans made paulie into an icon — his approach was everything fans believed in. (…he had great pitching behind him and won 4 rings. ya, that too.)

        and oh yeah…paulie didn’t choke at the dish every time he made the playoffs for the yanks. let’s table a-rod for now til he earns it.

        • Count Zero

          I think I said he had a “legitimate shot” — that doesn’t mean he gets it if he retires today, so cool your jets, dude. :-)

          Are you going to tell me that if he plays ten more years and becomes the all-time HR leader for all of MLB with 800 taters, you wouldn’t retire his number? That’s laughable.

        • Count Zero

          Oh and, for the record — only Mo is in the bank right now. Jeter needs to get to 3,000 hits and Mattingly isn’t even worth considering for the honor.

          • Sciorsci

            Except that #23 is already retired.

          • steve (different one)

            no, Jeter is a lock already. let’s be serious.

          • ceciguante

            mattingly not worth considering? that’s crazy talk. best yankee of the decade, captain, heart and soul of the team. most beloved ny athlete of his time. MVP (shoulda had two if he wasn’t robbed by the writers), and best player in the sport at his peak. mattingly belongs on the wall, if not the hall.

            but then, you think a 2nd ballot HOFer is probably unworthy of having his number on the wall. i think that’s way too high of a bar to set. i don’t see how the HOF should be a lesser standard than getting your number retired by your own team. the whole point is that you can be a great for your team, even if you don’t make the national writers standard.

            as for jeter — he’s in already. doesn’t need 3000 hits, he’s captain, high on the team’s hit list, and has 4 rings. face of the franchise for a decade. arod with 800 HR? sure — just tell me there’s at least one ring in there….

            • steve (different one)

              i find it amusing that you finished a rant about Mattingly’s credentials by requiring A-Rod to have a ring.

    • r.w.g.

      It’s extremely convenient how you left out all the borderline retired numbers in your post. But I guess your point wouldn’t quite past the mustard with names like Martin, Guidry, Maris, and Jackson.

      Guidry is retired but not Allie Reynolds? Rizztuo and Martin but not Bobby Richardson or even Joe Gordon (who was a better offensive player than the three of them combined)? Casey Stengel (and possibly Joe Torre), but no Joe McCarthy, Miller Huggins, or Ralph Houk? Huh?

      The criteria for retiring a number is bullshit and has no pattern whatsoever. Reggie was the successful version of the Gary Sheffield/Jason Giambi signings and he’s immortalized for one game and a bunch of homers he hit SOMEWHERE ELSE. He wasn’t anymore responsible for those rings than Graig Nettles or Goose Gossage. He’s a blip. A blip with a retired number.

      If people want to make it where it’s basically Dickey, Berra, Mantle, Ford, Ruth, DiMaggio, Howard, Gehrig.. go for it. Be my guest. Give everybody else a plaque and a catered lunch. But I think it’s disgraceful to freeze out Paulie O’Neill without going back and eliminating guys with similar credentials.

      • Tripp

        Dude, Miller Huggins was the first monument ever dedicated.

        • r.w.g.

          We’re talking retired numbers. I know Miller has a plaque. I’m just pointing out how arbitrary the process is.

      • Ben K.

        Disgraceful? That’s a pretty strong word.

        • r.w.g.

          You don’t think it’s a disgrace? It’s like you guys weren’t watching the team before Paul O’Neill got there.

          • Ben K.

            I have a question for you that’s slightly tangential: Why do you feel the need to personally insult people who disagree with you? It doesn’t help make your point stronger.

            • r.w.g.

              You feel personally attacked? You feel like I’ve said something about you? Like what? Have I called you a bad father, son, boyfriend, student? Have I called your wife/girlfriend/mom ugly? Have I called you stupid? Or am I just acting incredulous (which I totally am) that people don’t think Paulie is getting the shaft?

              You run a blog with tons of posts every single day. You know what a personal attack is and what isn’t, so don’t bring that to me. You haven’t been personally attacked.

              Start talking RBIs and AVGs and rings or start talking to somebody else.

              • Tripp

                Miller Huggins never had number; therefore, it wasn’t retired.

                • r.w.g.

                  Fair point. But I put a lot more names up there than just Huggins.

                  I’m just trying to get across how arbitrary the process is. Other than long balls, I fail to see how two previous NYY RF — Maris and Jackson — were more important to their clubs winning championships than O’Neill.

                  Like I’ve said before.. I can budge on Maris, he holds the greatest sports record in America. However, I think it’s sad that Paul O’Neill is the guy this stand is being made against.. since of all the borderline guys who have just made it or just missed it, he’s one of the most qualified.

                  • Jim Johnson

                    You can’t remove people from positions of honor that you’ve granted them. That was the poor judgement of the team. To rescind that would be an ultimate slap in the face.

                    You can, however, do the correct thing going forward.

              • Count Zero

                “Start talking RBIs and AVGs and rings…”

                I don’t think you want to go there because under any of those criteria other than rings, your case is pretty bad.

                And BTW I agree that many of those guys like Reggie shouldn’t have their numbers retired either.

                • r.w.g.

                  Paul O’Neill has more RBIs (858) with just the Yankees than Roger Maris (851) does for his whole career. He also had more 100 RBI years for us (4) than Maris (3).

                  It’s not like he was some joker up there at the plate guys. But I hope they really tow the line then if Paulie isn’t going to get it. Bernie shouldn’t get it and neither should Posada unless his HR totals get closer to Berra’s and he gets another ring.

                  • Mike A.

                    Are you really comparing Maris’ stats to O’Neill’s? Did you forget about the whole homerun record thing? That’s a pretty significant stat, no?

                    • r.w.g.

                      I have not forgotten the record, and I said in an earlier post (in one of these many number 21 threads) that Maris is the guy I can budge on as far as being a borderline guy.. because of his back-to-back MVP years and the fact that he set and still holds the greatest record in American sports history.

                      Paul O’Neill was a top 3 or 4 player on the best Yankee teams since the 50s and him being at his absolute peak during that time is a big reason why those teams were so good.

      • Sciorsci

        It’s “pass muster” not “past mustard.”

        • r.w.g.

          I was going to correct it, but I would have corrected it wrongly. I meant to write “pass the mustard”, but apparently that would have been wrong as well. Thanks for the correction.

  • Manimal

    He isn’t a Mantle, or Ruth, or Dimaggio. He was a lovable guy that played great. Thats it.

  • Micky#7

    Hot damn, you people have your thinking hats on.
    Absolutely not! I have seen; Joe D, Whitey, Mickey, Rizzuto and Yogi play…O’Neill was (maybe) above avg, playing for the Yanks…but on the wall with those guys!?!?! Get real!
    Manimal and the rest of you (Mostly) have it right.

  • Steve S

    Were being way to sanctimonious here. I dont understand one thing, if Paul Oneill gets his number retired, does that some how diminish the accomlishments of the guys you guys are discussing? In the end its a game and some of these guys have greater sentimental value then others. Its not as if Luis Sojo is getting in there or Jim Leyritz. Im indifferent either way, but you guys pass judgment on those fans who tore into Hawkins for wearing the number (which was stupid) but then act righteous because now you need to be an immortal to get into Monument Park. guess what donnie baseball is out there, reggie jackson is out there, billy martin is out there, and Allie reynolds is out there. While its debatable, I dont think Oneill’s accomlishments and sentiment surrounding him make it that insane for his number to be retired or for fans to support the concept.

    • Sciorsci

      I think the slippery slope argument is the worst you can make. Just because Jackson, Martin, et al are enshrined and have their numbers retired doesn’t make it right; and if it means opening the doors to other players who fall even slightly short of what really should be the theshold for number retirement that’s even worse.

      Further, in my opinion, it does diminish the accomplishments of the true immortals out there, in a sense. While I don’t think anyone is going to confuse Babe Ruth with Paul O’Neill anytime soon, I do think that it reduces the significance of having one’s number retired by the Yankees, when slightly above average ballplayers get their number retired simply because they were fan favorites. Of course, there’s already some out there that should probably not have been retired; I think it goes without saying that George went a little overboard with retiring numbers when he first took control of the team; I think it was his way of trying to validate his era in Yankee history.

      There’s the immortals: Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, Berra. There’s the historically significant: Howard, Maris (for very different reasons, obviously). There’s the Yankee captains: Munson, Mattingly (and eventually, Jeter). And with the Yankees’ capacity for developing and acquiring talent, there will always be players who are, at least arguably, deserving of some sort of memorial status. But, in my opinion, it should require more than what Paul O’Neill has done.

      Try to think years into the future, when you’re taking your grandson to Yankee Stadium, and he asks about those retired numbers. Do you really think Paul O’Neill belongs in that conversation alongside the Yankees’ all-time greats? I don’t. Jeter will be retired; Rivera will be retired (by the Yankees, even though #42 is already retired for Jackie Robinson); you’ll be able to talk about the great teams of the late ’90s, and you can certainly tell him all about Paulie and Bernie and Brosius and Posada, etc. They don’t need to have their numbers retired in order to remember the excellence of those teams and what they meant to all of us.

      • Steve S

        Its not a slippery slope argument, its the fact that there is no set criteria for whose number gets retired. Its a completely subjective thing and somehow for Paul Oneill the criteria is to match the accomplishments of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle and Joe D. All I was pointing out is that the these players have gotten in based on sentimental value, Im not going to sit here and say any of those guys shouldnt be in there. Im mean techincally Willie was a Captain, so does that qualify him.

        Its like they say about obscenity, I cant define but I know it when I see it. This isnt the hall of fame and while the Yankees are the standard, the retiring of a number has something to do with the sentiments of the fans. And I really didnt even contemplate this before this issue came up. But Paul Oneill and Bernie Williams having a day at Yankee staidum and their numbers being retired is not the embarassment or atrocity some people are making it out to be. The guy had 57,000 people chanting his name the last time he was on that field in uniform, about a month after 911. he clearly has a special connection with a lot of fans, I dont understand why that needs to be diminished. His numbers are on paper, but that doesnt fully explain the story. Just like it doesnt with reggie or billy, or even Thurman, or Donnie for that matter.

        • Sciorsci

          I agree, there are fan favorites for whom their statistics don’t tell the whole story. But I also think that retiring a number should be a more sacred memorial than the Yankees have historically made it (especially during the Steinbrenner era). Uniform numbers are not only significant, they’re also a finite value. Retire enough of them, and you WILL run out of numbers.

          I think there should be a permanent honor established for players who are not quite worthy of number retirement, but deserve a place in the pantheon of Yankee history. Either add plaques to Monument Park, or build a Yankees Hall of Fame in the new stadium.

          Either way, I can agree with doing something to celebrate what Paul O’Neill meant to this team, but I disagree with the idea of retiring his number. There’s quite a few great Yankees about which I feel the same way, including some who have had their number retired. I think you can make legitimate claims that Jackson, Rizzuto, Martin, Guidry, and even Maris should probably not have their numbers retired. Even Mattingly is somewhat borderline, in my opinion, especially if there were another way to honor him without retiring his number. I do think you could probably make a case for Mattingly based on him being a captain and the face of the franchise throughout the mid/late ’80s and into the early/mid ’90s. And you could probably make a case for Maris based on 1961 alone.

          I just think retiring a number is about a player’s place in a team’s history, and in the case of the Yankees, that should mean comparing them to Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, Berra, etc. We root for the greatest team in baseball history, and have the luxury of reserving such a tremendous honor for players of that ilk. You take the good with the bad; people talk about wanting to play for the Yankees to wear those storied pinstripes, to be tied to the legends of Ruth and DiMaggio, to carve out their place in history for the sport’s most historic franchise. Shouldn’t the concept of retiring numbers be consistent with that?

          • Steve S

            I agree but its still doesn’t change the fact that your are describing something that is largely intangible. Its easy with Ruth, Mantle, Gehrig, and Joe D. Those guys did it on paper and they were bigger than life, almost mythical. But what made them mythical is US, its the fans, the stuff on paper tells a story, but not the same one that fans do. If the man has enough support to convince an existing player to give up his number, then its time to notice. And Im sure everyone who has so easily dismissed Paul Oneill has a favorite Paul Oneill moment from 1993 on. He defined himself as a Yankee. I dont I kind of like the whole thing with Latroy Hawkins, its like the Steve Sax story when he came over and asked for 3. Its a good thing that we hold these guys from the late 90’s in high regard. They werent the big red machine from the 1970’s and with current state of ESPN, I think its going to be up to the fans in NY to make people remember how great 1996-2000 was. Otherwise they will cram 2004 down our throats as much as possible. Its okay monument park is for the fans, .

  • Shaun P.

    Before this whole LaTroy Hawkins thing, I would have voted yes. Dammit, I loved O’Neill the warrior. Now? No way, if only because it would be further appeasement of the idiots who brought this about by booing foolishly in the first place.

    Besides, the line for “next number to be retired” properly begins with #31 – a first ballot Hall of Famer who played 10 years for the Yanks. I’d argue the next number in line should be #30 (greatest Yank 2B of all time? Career WARP3 as a Yank 93.6; HoF Tony Lazzeri has 82.1). Then let’s talk about Bernie and Torre before we get to O’Neill.

    • r.w.g.

      Dave Winfield ought to have zero chance at having number retired, because he has zero rings. Unfortunately Mattingly really muddles the argument. Winfield had one or two more really great seasons for us as a Yankee and also had one or two more pretty good ones than Mattingly did. Good add to the discussion.

      Willie Randolph won’t get it. I mean, if they didn’t retire Joe Gordon’s number — 156 homers, 1000 hits in 1000 games from 2B in the 40’s — I don’t know how Willie makes it. They both have the same number of All-Star selections with NYY (although Gordon got his in far fewer seasons) and Gordon has 3 top ten MVP finishes with the Yanks (including winning the award in 1942), Willie was only in the top 30 twice, 15 being the high mark.

      • r.w.g.

        Winfield’s Yankee numbers are actually very very similar to Paulie’s. More homers, less RBIs, one less season, but no rings to show for it.

        • Ben K.

          24 other players were involved in winning those rings. Should they get their numbers retired too?

          • r.w.g.

            If they nearly averaged 100 RBI a season for nearly a decade, sure.

            • Ben K.

              But now you’re talking about purely arbitrary stats. I can average 100 RBIs if Chuck Knoblauch and Derek Jeter are getting on base in front of me at ridiculous rates. RBIs are as much a product of everyone else in the lineup as they are of O’Neill.

              • r.w.g.

                I don’t know how to respond to this. I mean, RBIs are RBIs. You’re either the guy who got the hit when somebody was on base or you aren’t. I guess I could say it’s real easy for Bernie Williams to knock in 100 runs with Paul ONeill hitting in front of him.

                And I don’t know how you can say you could drive in 100 runs if you had Jeter and Knoblauch in front of you. Jorge couldn’t get to 100 RBI’s with Rodriguez and Abreu in front of him.

                I guess we can go back and forth with little anecdotes, like how similar Paul O’Neill’s numbers are to Tommy Henrich’s (except Henrich played 2 more seasons, and was actually a DNP-CD for both the 37 and 39 WS.. can you ever imagine benching Paulie for the WS and winning?) or say it shouldn’t matter that Dave Winfield didn’t win any rings.. but I believe the simple truth is that Paul O’Neill was one of the 3 or 4 driving forces on the best teams the Yankees have fielded since the 50s. 3 titles in a row in post-free agency baseball?

                If you follow the Reggie Jackson model and include what he did with other teams, he adds another ring and more career home runs than Roger Maris. Am I really hitting golf balls at the moon with this one guys?

                • Ben K.

                  No, but I think you’re in the minority — the 20 percent minority according to our poll. Paul was great; I loved him. But a retired number? Not in my opinion. And that’s what is. I disagree with you; you disagree with me. At this point, no one’s convincing anyone else otherwise, it seems.

  • jscape2000

    If you had asked me last season, I would have said yes. But this whole fiasco has changed my mind. I’d be fine with giving Paul a plaque on the wall behind the monuments alongside championship Yankees like Red Ruffing (15) and Allie Reynolds (22); I’m fine with having a Paul O’Neill Day, but I don’t want to see 21 hung on the shelf.

    Ditto Bernie.

    I think the only retirees in the current generation of Yankees are Jeter, Mariano, and Torre. Jeter will get a monument.

  • Curramba

    Not all the Yankees numbers that are retired are retired because they were HF or borderline HF. Yes, you have the GIANTS like Ruth, Mantle, and Dimaggio but some were retired because they were beloved Yankees and were great players maybe not in the catagory of Ruth, Mantle and Dimaggio but great in their own right. btw, how many teams have greats like those three? I think it would be great to retire 21 because Oneill was a great player for us and was a catalyst on those teams.

    Bernie is not borderline HOF if Mattingly didn’t get in there’s no way Bernie’s getting in but just Mattingly Bernie does deserve to have his number retired by the Yankees.

  • Bryan

    WHile I love Paul and what he did for this team he is not retire worthy. Outside of Reggie the retired numbers are of all true Yankee players who did their best work in a Yankee uniform and most spent their entire carreer in a Yankee uniform.

    Thank you Paul!!! Let’s have a Paul O’Neill day but that’s about it.

  • pete

    there are way too many retired numbers on the yankees. it should currently be Ruth, Gehrig, Dimaggio, Mantle, Berra, Ford, and Howard. And Jeter, Mo, and A-Rod if he plays out his contract will all probably be there in the end. But retired yankee # means the player should be a firt ballot HOF with at least 10 years on the yankees who was beloved by fans and who had the ability to single-handedly carry a team when it was struggling. And unless the team was never good other than him, or the pitching stunk or something, the player should have at least a ring or two.

  • Tripp

    I can’t wait until Torre, Jeter, Arod, Posada, Bernie, Rivera, Pettitte, and O’Neil eventually have their numbers all retired.

    Then the pitchers at the back end of the bullpen will all be wearing numbers in the 80s and spring training guys will be wearing double numbers and numbers in the 100s.

  • Jim Johnson

    Paul deserves a plaque in Monument Park.

    He represented the last Yankee Dynasty along with Bernie, Jeter, Posada, Mariano and Torre. They are part of Yankee lore and deserve to be immortalized.

    But is he so great that number 21 should be taken out of circulation because of his achievements while wearing it? Absolutely not.

  • Mike @ NYYU

    I made a posting on where O’Neill fits in with the other retired numbers.

  • Marsha

    From the original comment thread–Here’s an idea–unretire eveyone’s number but keep the plaques in Monument Park as the honor. This way the Yanks don’t run out of numbers and anyone can wear anyone else’s number without getting booed for it.

    • Sciorsci

      It’s not an awful idea, but I still think, at the bare minimum, 3, 4, 5, 7 & 8 need to stay retired.

  • Travis G.

    how about ‘undecided’? O’neill is one of my favorite players ever… but if #21 is retired, it opens the door for other borderline guys like Bernie, Tino, Winfield, Cone, Wells, Nettles, Goose, etc.

    • Ben K.

      No Undecided because I don’t like polls with that answer. Take a stand!

    • Marsha

      Let’s not go overboard. Like O’Neill, Tino, Winfield, Cone, Wells, Nettles, Goose, etc. spent large portions of their careers on other teams. Their Yankee numbers should not be retired. End of subject.

  • Curramba

    Borderline in what sense because Goose is headed to the HOF this summer and was a great closer for us.

  • Jim Johnson

    And a great closer for a lot of other teams. The guy spent 6 years with New York. Come on.

  • Sciorsci

    Undecided? Don’t vote. That’s a pretty good way of not deciding.

  • YankeeGirl

    Paul O’Neill does not deserve his number to be retired. I don’t understand how we are even discussing this.

    No, it does not diminish the the legacy of the other retired numbers but when you start doing it for 21, there will be no end to retiring numbers from that era. Eveyone should just face it – Joe Torre is gone. That dynasty is long past. Everyone just needs to move on.

    I like to idea of a Paul O’Neill Day. That’s would take care of honoring someone like O’Neill and not going overboard.

    • Steve S

      You know what your right, the dynasty is long past, so are the years that Ruth and Mantle and Dimmagio were playing. I have an idea, just leave monument park behind and let the bulldozers take it down.

      Talk about missing the point

      • KW

        I think that you missed the point she was making. The team from that era was good but you retire numbers for special players, special meaning their service time and dedication to the team, individual accomplishments and what not. I think what she’s saying is that the dynasty we had led us to hold onto feelings and desires and ideas about players that simply aren’t objectively true. Should we retire Bernie’s #? How about Pettitte’s? Cone’s? Posada’s? Wells’? Each had as much of an impact as Paul.

        It’s got nothing to do with “forgetting the dynasty” and rather stepping away and looking at it objectively.

        • Steve S

          No I think you guys missed the point that some fans understand that criteria and they believe that Paul Oneill was a special player. And that the point of retiring his number serves two purposes its memorializes a player for not just this generation of fans, but for the next and it also memorializes a significant era in Yankee history. To say, eight years after the fact forget about that time is missing the whole point and one of the reasons there is an argument to honor Paul Oneill.

        • Steve S

          and again the retiring of numbers in Yankee stadium has nothing to do with being objective, its a sentiment by the organization honoring players who have meant something to the team, the fans, and the city. I dont understand why Paul Oneill is getting these harsh “objective standards” that haven’t applied to a lot of the guys who are honored in there. And I dont see anyone walking in Mounment park and saying ” They retired [Paul Oneill], wow they will retire anyones number in here, get over the late 90’s”.

  • ansky

    good god. not the r.w.g guy again.

    Rude Whining Guy?

    • r.w.g.

      Attack the argument, asnky.

  • Brian24

    Retiring a number is not and should not be subject to objective standards the way Hall of Fame membership is. It’s an expression about someone meaning so much to the team and its fans that they will forever be associated with that number.

    Steinbrenner has been overgenerous with retiring numbers. Maris, to choose an obvious example, should be unretired tomorrow, as no Yankee fan has any kind of emotional connection to him. On the other hand, Scooter’s number is retired as much for his years of broadcasting as anything else–he is someone that generations of fans associated warm feelings about the team with, so I think it’s appropriate.

    I think O’Neill’s borderline for retiring. Though frankly, I have no problem with an “unofficial” retirement, i.e., it’s not officially retired but the fans make it impossible for anyone else to wear the number for 10 years or so.

  • Sciorsci

    Try to think back before the Mitchell Report. The Yankees signed two pitchers last year who both had ties to the #21. Pettitte, who wore #21 in Houston as a tribute to Clemens, and then Clemens himself, who had worn #22 more recently, but had historically worn #21 for his career prior to joining the Yankees.

    If either one of those guys had worn #21, how would the fans have reacted? I, for one, can’t say for sure. I know on the original O’Neill/Hawkins thread there were some commenters who claimed that it was not just about reissuing #21, but about it being issued to someone who was worthy of a number that carried some additional significance. In other words, they actually didn’t want it to be retired; they wanted it to be worn by special players as a tribute to Paul O’Neill.

    I think that might be the most fitting tribute. I wholeheartedly disagree with the notion of booing any player simply for the number he chooses to wear (I don’t really believe that fans should make a habit of booing their own team anyway), but I can at least understand the idea that if the Yankees were going to reissue #21, it shouldn’t be for a journeyman that will be onto another team in 2009.

    I truly do not believe that Paul O’Neill – as much as I loved him during his years in pinstripes – is worthy of getting his number retired, but I do think it would be interesting to reserve his number (and perhaps certain others) for significant players, like USC football has done with #55, Notre Dame football with #3, Syracuse with #44, etc. I think if #21 went to AJax, Tabata or Brackman, that would be appropriate. I just wonder if it would add extra pressure on a young player if he were issued #21. How would the fans react, though?

    • Steve S

      Good point on Pettitte and Clemens (but I find it interesting that his contemporaries/teammates knew better than to take his number which may be another indiciation of why he may be deserving).

      While I don’t always agree with the reasons why fans boo (See Alex Rodriguez), I do think fans always have the right to boo if they pay the price of admission.

  • Micky#7

    Babe – 60 Hr – 1927
    Maris – 61 Hr – 1961 — 34 yers later
    Big mac – 70 Hr 1998 — 37 years later
    After/including 1998, 6 guys have more then Roger. Please don’t short change Rogers place in monument park. He was boooooed horribly during his run…much more then Hawk has, very, very much more. You had to be there to believe it. Everyone wanted the mick to win, not Roger.
    So, ok if they retire 21…so what? Should they? No! I liked O’Neill, just as most of you have, again…No. Just me I guess. 27/08.

    • r.w.g.

      Nobody has hit more home runs in a season than Roger Maris. The record is still 61. Those other guys were using steroids so don’t count.

  • stylez

    I vote no, although I’m one of the bigest O’neil fans. Williams yes! How can you deny it? This man was the cleanup hitter for the glory teams of the 90’s and put up some great seasons. Jeter….Common is there even a doubt that his jersey will be retired?? And I can’t understand anyone saying Posada is not deserving? I think he absolutely should get his jersey retired. Arguably one of the top 3 catchers of the last decade. and ask any journalist or yankee what jorge means to the team and each one will tell you he’s just as much captain of the team as is Jeter!

  • r.w.g.

    Posada’s problem is that while he’s one of the best catchers of his time, he has a hard time stacking up against the other Yankee catchers that have had their jersey retired. He is simply not in Dickey, Berra, Howard, or Munson’s class defensively.

    What works in his favor is his offensive consistency and OBP. His home run totals will fall short of Berra, but ahead of the others. 300 HR or another ring will lock it up for Jorge, but he doesn’t make it just on what he did for the 90s teams.

    And I honestly would not pencil Jeter in for it just yet. He’s got 3 years left on his contract, there’s some real questions over how many more seasons he should play at SS and how willing he is to ever move off that position. It’d be weird to retire his number if it becomes a nasty split over Jeet’s crappy defense.

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