Tracy Ringolsby

A retired numbers game for Yankees

By end of 2015 season, club will have honored 21 players/managers

A retired numbers game for Yankees

The Yankees had every intention that they would be the first team, along with the Indians, to make numbers an official part of the Major League uniform. It was 1929, and the season was scheduled to open on April 16.

The Yankees' plans went awry. Their opener was rained out. Cleveland, which was not rained out, went ahead and wore uniforms with numbers. The Yankees became the second big league team to make numbers a part of the uniform when they played their delayed opener April 17.

Eighty-six years later, the question facing the Yankees is: What they are going to do after they run out of numbers?

Bernie Williams became the 19th player or manager to have his number retired by the Yankees, who will add two more to the list of retired numbers later this season -- No. 20 for Jorge Posada on Aug. 22, and No. 46 for Andy Pettitte the next day. And while no date has been set yet, it is a foregone conclusion that Derek Jeter, who retired last fall, will have No. 2 retired in his honor.

Posada, Pettitte, Williams, Jeter and Mariano Rivera were the homegrown foundation of the Yankees dynasty that won four world championships in a five-year span -- 1996, '98, '99 and 2000.

When Jeter's No. 2 is retired, the Yankees with have retired all single-digit numbers, including No. 8 twice -- for catchers Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra.

The Cardinals (12) and Giants (11) are second and third in retired numbers. The Dodgers, Reds and Braves have 10 each.

While every team retired No. 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson, the Yankees and Cardinals also have that number retired in honor of Rivera and Bruce Sutter, respectively.

The Mariners, Marlins and Nationals do not have a number retired other than No. 42 for Robinson. The Expos did retire No. 8 for Gary Carter, No. 10 for Rusty Staub and Andre Dawson, and No. 30 for Tim Raines, but those numbers are not retired by the Washington Nationals, who the Expos became in 2005.

Memorial Day memory

• Sixty-three members of the Hall of Fame served in the military, including Larry MacPhail, who was in the Army in World War I and World War II. Ted Williams also served during World War II and the Korean War. The breakdown is 33 members of the Army, 25 of the Navy, four Marines and one with the Coast Guard.

• Jerry Coleman is the only player who was in active duty for two conflicts -- World War II and the Korean War. Coleman flew 120 missions -- 57 during World War II and 63 in Korea. Williams was active duty during the Korean War, but was a flight instructor during World War II who was at Pearl Harbor awaiting orders for deployment when the war in the Pacific was settled.

• There have been at least 213 professional baseball players killed during military conflict, according to The most recent was Army Major Stephen Reich, who died in combat in Afghanistan on June 28, 2005.

National pastime

The deep ties between baseball and America were underscored in January 1942, when Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis wrote President Franklin D. Roosevelt wondering if the baseball season should be stopped until World War II was over. Roosevelt called for the games to be played.

"I honestly feel that it would be best for the country to keep baseball going," he wrote Landis in what became known as "the green-light letter."

The President continued: "There will be fewer people unemployed and everybody will work longer hours and harder than ever before. And that means that they ought to have a chance for recreation and for taking their minds off their work even more than before."

President Roosevelt also asked Landis to play more night games so the games would be more available to workers.

Happy anniversary

• Wednesday is the 58th anniversary of the National League approving the move of the Dodgers and Giants to California, contingent upon the teams moving at the same time.

• Saturday is the 80th anniversary of Babe Ruth's final game. In the lineup for the Boston Braves in the first game of a doubleheader at Philadelphia, Ruth had an at-bat in the first inning and called it quits. At the age of 40, he had appeared in 28 games that season, hitting six home runs with a .181 average.


• Right-hander Chad Bettis pitched 8 1/3 innings in an 11-2 victory against the Giants on Sunday, only the 46th time in the 1,633 games played at Coors Field that a Rockies pitcher worked at least 8 1/3 innings. Aaron Cook is the all-time leader with seven such games. A visiting pitcher has done it only 35 times, including Tom Glavine, who had two shutouts.

Bettis' stellar start

• Cardinals right-hander Michael Wacha is off to a 7-0 start. He is the 163rd pitcher since 1912 to win at least seven games without a loss to open a season, according to The record is 15-0, held by Dave McNally of the Orioles in 1969 and Johnny Allen of the Indians in 1937. In 2013, Max Scherzer of the Tigers opened 13-0; Clay Buchholz of the Red Sox, 10-0; Patrick Corbin of the D-backs, 9-0; and Matt Moore of the Rays, 8-0.

Wacha's dominant start

• The Dodgers became the 30th big league team to give up 10 or more runs in a game this year when the Padres scored 11 on Sunday. The Brewers, Padres and Rockies have done it six times each. The Red Sox gave up a season high in an 18-7 loss at Baltimore on April 26.

Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.