Monday, January 16, 2017


I went to Syracuse University where the number 44 is a sacred thing for sure.  Only the greatest of the great Syracuse Athletes wore 44. Special numbers in Sport is truly a way to honor and remember the men and women who did so much for the game they played and the organization they played for. 

Football great: Jim Brown
This concept is well known to the New York Yankee Universe.  Just uttering numbers 2 through 10 evokes the memories of some of the best baseball has ever seen...but is there a break point?  Do we stop this tradition of holding out or retiring the jersey numbers of the most beloved Bronx Bombers?  Well, our pals at Pinstripe Alley believe we should, and they selected a player to make an example of that just doesn't sit well with me...

Photo: Getty Images
Now this article was released in February 2015, but it's still floating around the Internet, but it caught my attention because the title is so charged for me: The Yankees need to reissue Paul O'Neill's no. 21. It's very difficult for yours truly to find anything negative about Paul O'Neill.  He was and remains my all-time favorite ballplayer.  Yes, he and I share an Irish heritage, but for me Paulie was the WARRIOR Mr. Steinbrenner dubbed him in every way, shape and form. 

O'Neill was my favorite for the way he respected, prepared for and played the game.  I firmly feel that Paul was the engine that drove the dynasty clubs of the late 1990s.  Losing wasn't an option.  Those clubs outplayed, but more importantly out worked everyone they took the field against.  That's what made O'Neill a special Yankee.  Sure, umpires may have looked at him the way linesmen in tennis looked at Johnny Mac.  Yep, Gatorade coolers weren't found of him.  And sure, he wasn't a homegrown prospect...but neither was Maris.

Make no mistake here, I'm not lobbying for number 21 to be hung up in Monument Park.  I think that honor should only go to the likes of Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, Jeter and RiveraBut I think that number 21 is surely worthy if numbers 20, 46, 23 and 6 are out there.

So, should the Yankees put 21 back in the rotation? Nah.  I think it is a great unspoken honor to the great Warrior...BUT!  I will compromise with the hardliners at Pinstripe Alley.  I'll OK the return of the number 21 to the Yankee Clubhouse if, and ONLY if, you get the Yankees to move the right field wall back from 314ft to 321ft.  Have the 21 painted green and have "The Warrior's Wall" stitched into the blue padding.  If you pull that off then I think giving 21 to a young, fiery, Irish Bronx Bombers is more than OK.

Your move Pinstripe Alley.  Otherwise 21 remains like March 17th...a number you just don't move.


--Mike O'Hara
BYB Contributor
Follow me on Twitter: @mikeyoh21

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