History of retired numbers dates back to Lou Gehrig Day
“It's the fans’ way, the franchise's way, of saying ‘We love you,’” said former longtime San Francisco Giants clubhouse manager Mike Murphy.
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The retired-number craze didn’t kick in big-time until the 1970s. From 1939 through 1970, 31 years, only 19 MLB numbers were retired. There are now more than 200 retired numbers, not counting executives, broadcasters and “The Fans” (Cleveland Indians).
And yes, every franchise has retired Jackie Robinson’s “42,” but the Yankees (Mariano Rivera, 2019 Hall of Fame inductee) and the St. Louis Cardinals (Bruce Sutter, 2006 Hall of Fame inductee) have retired it twice, given that Rivera and Sutter wore the number before it was retired MLB-wide in 1997.
Sometimes it really is all about the numbers.
John Erardi is a freelance writer from Crescent Springs, Ky.