April 25, 2005
Lefty Gomez pitched for the New York Yankees from 1930 through 1942. (Gomez also pitched one game for the Washington Senators in 1943.) From 1931 through 1939, the case could be made that he was the second best pitcher in the American League (trailing only the great Lefty Grove).
In terms of relative pitching value, no starting pitcher in Yankees history (to date) has ever put together four seasons as good as Gomez did in 1931, 1934, 1937 and 1938 (combined). Justly, Lefty became a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972. Gomez passed away in 1989 just about three months following his 80th birthday.
Whitey Ford is considered the greatest pitcher in Yankees history and few could argue with that selection. Gomez did not pitch as long as Ford – and, therefore, he would have to rank 2nd to Whitey on the all-time great Yankees pitchers leader board. Nonetheless, on a pound-for-pound basis, Gomez was just as good as Ford when he manned the mound for New York.
During the majority of his time with the Yankees, Lefty Gomez wore # 11. There seems to be no reason why the Yankees have not retired this number in honor of Gomez. Lefty is just as deserving as any of the other players whose numbers have been retired by the club.
Posted by Steve Lombardi at April 25, 2005 11:16 AM
Throw in Jeter and Torre and you've got 1-11 eliminated and possibly 5 of the next 12 digits as well (15, 16 and 23 already, 21 for O'Neill seems a sure thing, perhaps 20 for Posada?) Actually, if Alex Rodriguez plays out his contract in NY, you can probably add 13 to that list. This is getting ridiculous. I'm not looking forward to the day when the Yankees are all wearing numbers over 50 (but not 51-Bernie or 54-Goose or maybe even 55-Matsui if he resigns to a long deal).
What was Red Ruffing's number?
Posted by: Cliff at April 25, 2005 01:45 PM
Ruffing wore # 15, IIRC. That's covered, in a way.
I too have issues with all the retired numbers. To get around that, I would lobby to unretire (if you can do that?) numbers 1 and 9. And, FWIW, # 44 too.
To get a retired number, you should be a HOFer who played with the Yankees for at least 10 years - or a very long tentured and popular player - - like Donnie, Munson and Gator. Of course, I could see the reason behind # 32 as well. That's a special case.
Posada's number retired? Why stop there? Why not Dave Righetti, George Selkirk, and Bill Skowron too? They would have the same case as Jorge.
Posted by: Steve Lombardi at April 25, 2005 02:32 PM
Good point. Not Jorgy.
Posted by: Cliff at April 25, 2005 05:03 PM
I'm sure there are a lot of politics that go into it as well.
I could've sworn #31 was going to be retired right up until Winnie went in as a Padre.
Posted by: Raf at April 25, 2005 10:55 PM
Raf, if only. They gave away 31 immediately after Winfield was dumped on the Angels . . . to Brian Dorsett. Tim Raines, Steve Karsay, Glenallen Hill . . . they've never been shy about giving 31 away. 31, 54 and Nettles 9 are three numbers that should be retired but won't because of those players relationships with the Boss.
Posted by: Cliff at April 26, 2005 10:37 AM
I'll always remember seeing a pitcure of Winny in 1989, the year he missed the whole season with his bad back, on his honeymoon, riding a roller coaster with his new bride, and thinking then "He's done as a Yankee - Stein must be fuming at this shot."
Posted by: Steve Lombardi at April 26, 2005 11:01 PM