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Retired Numbers and The Yankees

Dec 11, 2013, 5:47 PM EDT

Billy Martin

You may have heard … it looks like the New York Yankees will retire Joe Torre’s number. That is absolutely the right thing to do — heck Billy Martin’s number is retired — and it brings us just a little big closer to one of the cooler number things in sports: Very soon the first 10 numbers will be retired by the New York Yankees.

In case you have forgotten the list:

No. 1: Billy Martin. Number was retired in 1986 more out of emotion, I think, than anything else. Ralph Houk won a World Series as manager and his number isn’t retired. But it’s also true that no player or manager ever wore the Yankees pinstripes more proudly. Martin was a Yankees World Series hero as a player, and he led the Yankees to a pennant and a World Series championship as a manager, in addition to being fired 800 million times.

No. 2: Derek Jeter. Will be retired 12 minutes after he retires.

No. 3: Babe Ruth. Baseball’s all-time No. 3 hitter. Baseball’s all-time everything, really. Retired June, 13, 1948. The famous picture of Babe Ruth leaning on his bat comes from that day. You probably know this, but Ruth gave the bat to Bob Feller, and it is on display at the Bob Feller Museum in Iowa.

No. 4: Lou Gehrig. Retired July 4, 1939, the day he announced that he was the luckiest man on the face of the earth.

No. 5: Joe DiMaggio. Retired April 18, 1952. I really think they should have retired it in 1956.

No. 6: Here’s Joe Torre’s number, squeezed beautifully between DiMag and the Mick. It’s almost as if they KNEW he would become an all-time great manager and have his number retired.

No. 7: George Costanza’s future child. And Mickey Mantle. Retired June 8, 1969.

No. 8: Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra. This was an interesting one. The Yankees did not retire Dickey’s number when he retired in 1946. Instead, two years later, they gave it to a young catcher named Yogi (up to that point, Berra had worn No. 38 and No. 35). So, two of the greatest catchers in baseball history wore No. 8 for the Yankees. In 1972, the Yankees decided to retire the number for Yogi, but they couldn’t leave out Dickey. So they retired the number in both names.

No. 9: Roger Maris. He was sick and would die eighteen months after having his number retired in 1984. But he was at the stadium on Old Timer’s Day wearing No. 9.

No. 10: Phil Rizzuto in 1985. Scooter, as a player, announcer and icon you could argue convincingly that Rizzuto and Yogi are the two most beloved figures in Yankees history.

The Yankees actually have retired eight more numbers: No. 15 (Thurman Munson); No. 16 (Whitey Ford); No. 23 (Donnie Baseball); No. 32 (Elston Howard); No. 37 (Casey Stengel); No. 42 (The Great Rivera); No. 44 (The Straw That Stirred the Drink) and No. 49 (Ron Guidry).

But it is filling up those first 10 numbers that is really cool. There’s really nothing else quite like that in sports.

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