Baseball Toaster The Griddle
A place where a man can slow down to a walk and live his life full measure, but he has to keep his watch on Pacific Time.
Frozen Toast
Google Search
The Griddle

02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  10  07 
06  05  04  03 
Suggestions, comments, ring the catcher's interference alarm?

Email me at

The stuff I keep track of
Random Game Callbacks

Select a date:

Personal favorites that I wrote
21! Someone is going to lose anyway
2006-01-24 11:56
by Bob Timmermann

Jackie Robinson's daughter, Sharon, says that baseball should not retire Roberto Clemente's #21 throughout the sport. The advocacy group Hispanics Across America has championed the idea.

How in the world could Bud Selig, shrewd decisionmaker that he is, come to a resolution that wouldn't upset one side or the other?

Mariano Rivera remains the last #42 in the majors.

The players wearing #21 at the time being are Jason Johnson (he wore #21 in Detroit, but it's retired in Cleveland for Bob Lemon, he is listed as #16 on the Indians website), Choo Freeman, Chad Moeller, Mark Kotsay, Jon Lieber, Jason Ellison, and Jason Marquis. I was using the rosters because I could through them more quickly, but numbers are all subject to change as rosters change through the spring.

Interestingly, no Latino players are wearing #21 to honor Clemente now that I can find. In addition to Pittsburgh for Clemente and Cleveland for Lemon, the Braves have also retired #21 in honor of Warren Spahn. Arky Vaughan also wore #21 when he played in Pittsburgh.

2006-01-24 13:01:52
1.   Cliff Corcoran
Curious. It used to be that there were Latino #21s all over the place, in honor of Clemente. Two recent examples off the top of my head would be Sammy Sosa and Ruben Sierra (who wore #21 when not with the Yankees where it looks like it will be retired for Paul O'Neill as no one's worn it since he retired).

Similarly, there were always a large number of Latino #13s in honor of Dave Concepcion (though that might have just been a Venezuelan thing now that I think about it--Ozzie Guillen and Omar Vizquel being the two examples that lept to mind).

At any rate, I find it odd that there are no Latino #21s in the majors at the moment. Much as I have great respect and personal fondness for Clemente, I think it would be absurd for baseball to retire #21 throughout the sport in his memory (and something that likely wouldn't even be discussed had he not died tragically and heroically while still an active player). Unlike Robinson, Clemente would be an arbitrary selection (he was neither the first, nor the best Latino player in the major leagues, though an argument could be made that he was the first great Latino player in the majors, even that is an arbitrary distinction that is dependent on the interpretation of both his statistics and the term "great"). It's the very definition of a slippery slope.

Reading the petition linked above, the only justification given for retiring Clemente's number is, essentially, "he was a good person." Or perhaps "he was a good person who died tragically and heroically." That's fantastic and worthy of tribute and honor, but it doesn't make him unique. The way I saw it (and the only way I could justify it) was that MLB retired Robinson's number because his contribution to the sport was that special and that unique, and had not and could not be equalled by anyone else. That being the case, I don't believe that the distinction chosen to honor that contribution be bestowed up on anyone else either.

2006-01-24 13:42:32
2.   Berkeley Doug
1 I agree completely. What's next retiting the Eddie Gaedel's number 1/8 in honor of the greatest vertically challenged player in MLB history?
2006-01-24 13:44:10
3.   nickb
I think Clemente was a great player, but I don't see how anyone besides Jackie Robinson merits having their number retired league-wide.

That being said, I enjoyed this Freudian slip/typo:

...Bud Selig, shrew decisionmaker that he is...

2006-01-24 13:48:36
4.   Bob Timmermann
That's what happens when you spend too much wondering if decisionmaker needs a hyphen or not.

I think Robinson is the only player who merits the honor, but it's clear that there will be a bunch of people who won't be happy. And the dilemma is do you honor the demographic that doesn't like baseball as much anymore or the demographic is likely to be the backbone of the sport for the next 100 years.

There is honor. There is marketing. They don't often intersect.

2006-01-24 13:52:56
5.   nickb
Didn't MLB already sort of cover that with the whole All-Time Hispanic team? Is it really necessary to honor someone from each demographic? Will Matt Stairs be in the running for All-Time Best Canadian?
2006-01-24 14:48:51
6.   Bob Timmermann
Perhaps I should put it this way. There is honoring. And there is pandering.
2006-01-24 22:04:45
7.   popup
Although I am a Dodger fan, I was not in favor of Bud's retiring of Jackie Robinson's number throughout baseball. I think it is much more of a honor for Jackie's number to live in the future by players who want to honor him by wearing it.

Stan from Tacoma

2006-01-24 22:27:00
8.   Cliff Corcoran
If it doesn't need a hyphen, it should at least be two words.
2006-01-24 23:47:38
9.   Bob Timmermann
Two words seems to be what most dictionaries say, but I will live with the compound.

Comment status: comments have been closed. Baseball Toaster is now out of business.