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July 1, 2011
Numbers That Should Be Retired
Last Sunday, the Detroit Tigers retired Sparky Anderson's #11 in front of the Arizona Diamondbacks and forty-thousand Tigers fans. Sparky, as you may remember, died last November at the age of 76. In his 17 years with the Tigers, Sparky won over 1,300 games and captured one World Series title. He also won Manager of the Year twice for the club. Two members of the Diamondbacks coaching staff - Kirk Gibson and Alan Trammell - were key cogs in Anderson's best teams, so it's good that they could be in attendance for the ceremony.
But it raises a good question: why haven't the Tigers retired Trammell's #3 jersey? My guess is that they are waiting for Trammell to get elected to the Hall of Fame. He is easily one of the best shortstops of the last fifty years, if not more, and it's always nice to have a Hall of Fame number retiring ceremony at your home ballpark. But, the way things are going, it's very unlikely that Trammell will get voted into the Hall by the writers. In his tenth year of eligibility, Trammell only earned 24.3% of the vote. It will take an upsurge of epic proportions for Trammell to be inducted into Cooperstown in the next five years. What happens then? Will the Tigers retire his number? How long will they wait? By the time he falls off the ballot, Trammell will have been retired twenty years. That'd be like the Brewers finally getting around to retiring Robin Yount's number in 2013.
It got me wondering. What other players are out there whose number should be retired but isn't? I'm thinking more along the lines of players who have been out of the game for 10 or more years, but I suppose it couldn't hurt to list some of the more recently retired players too. It's not uncommon to see teams wait five or so years to retire a number, but it's certainly not the rule. Yount, for example, had his number retired in May 1994 despite retiring at the end of the 1993 season. I'm skipping some obvious names (like Ken Griffey, Jr.) just so this doesn't turn into a list of soon-to-be Hall of Famers.
Below are some of the names that immediately come to mind when I think of players who should have their numbers retired by their clubs. Who am I missing? Can we come up with somebody from all 30 teams (recent expansion teams excluded perhaps)?
San Francisco Giants - Barry Bonds, Will Clark
Los Angeles Dodgers - Fernando Valenzuela
Detroit Tigers - Alan Trammell
Boston Red Sox - Wade Boggs
Cincinnati Reds - Pete Rose
Oakland Athletics/St. Louis Cardinals - Mark McGwire
Cleveland Indians - Kenny Lofton
New York Mets - Keith Hernandez
That's my list for now. I know for a fact that I'm missing a few players here and there (Bobby Grich? John Olerud? Edgar Martinez?). Please let me know who they are. And remember, if you would find yourself wondering how in the world the player's team ignored him if you found out tomorrow that something tragic had happened, he should be included.
I'm curious to see who you come up with.