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Retired Numbers on Promotional Jerseys: Yea or Nay?

Interesting scene yesterday at Yankee Stadium, as American Pharoah jockey Viktor Espinoza threw out the first pitch prior to the Yanks/Halos game. As you can see above, they gave him a Yankees jersey for the occasion — nothing unusual about that. The interesting thing was the number on the back (screen shot by reader Chris Flinn):

Okay, so we all understand what they were doing — the “3” stands for the Triple Crown. But it’s still kinda startling to see someone wearing a Yankees jersey with the Babe’s number on the back.

This raises an interesting question: Should retired numbers be off-limits for promotional jerseys? In November of 2013, for example, the Mets announced that they’d be adding a G.I. Joke jersey for the 2014 season and unveiled it with this photo:

I kinda flipped out, and not just for the obvious reasons, but also because No. 14 is retired for Gil Hodges and my brain goes into “Does not compute” mode when I see anyone wearing a Mets jersey with that number. Obviously, in this case they were using 14 as a shorthand for 2014, but I still didn’t like it. I’m sure there are lots of similar instances.

What do you folks think? Let’s please skip the obvious responses (“If the Yankees didn’t use their retired numbers for promo jerseys, they wouldn’t have any numbers left to use!”), and let’s also not hear from those of you who are opposed to the whole idea of retired numbers (a different argument for a different day). For the rest of you: Was it okay for the Yankees to give Espinoza a No. 3 jersey yesterday? What about situations like the Mets promotional photo?

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LAST CALL for the Fourth of July design: Today is the final day to order the Uni Watch T-Shirt Club’s July design with the Independence Day theme. It’s available until 11pm Eastern tonight and then it’s gone for good.

In case you’ve somehow missed it, here’s the design (click to enlarge):

You can order the shirt on this page. For those who have issues with the “Pandering” NOB, that topic is discussed in depth here.

Meanwhile, big thanks to everyone who ordered the Canada Day shirt, which turned out to be more popular than we expected, and doubleplusthanks to reader Mike O’Connor for suggesting that we include a Canadian option for July. Wouldn’t have happened without you, Mike!

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Membership update: A bunch of new designs have been added to the membership card gallery (including Stephen Santangelo’s 1980 USA hockey treatment, shown at right). We still need one more order to fill out the current batch. Once that happens, this batch will be printed, laminated, and shipped out.

As always, you can sign up for your own custom-designed membership card here, you can see all the cards we’ve designed so far here, and you can see how we make the cards here.

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PermaRec update: The blackboard lesson shown above was, as the calendar suggests, created in 1917. It was recently uncovered, completely intact, at an Oklahoma City high school, along with several other blackboard lessons from the same period. Get the full scoop over on Permanent Record.

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Baseball News: The Dodgers held a celebrity softball game with some pretty cool jerseys. ”¦ The good news: Mets TV analyst Ron Darling noted that Jarrod Saltalamacchia, now with the D-backs, wears his catcher’s helmet with the brim facing forward. The bad news: Darling stated that Salty is MLB’s only front-brimmed backstop, which isn’t even close to being true. In fact, as Darling should know, the first MLB catcher ever to wear his helmet that way was Jason Phillips of the Mets. ”¦ Royals and Rangers went blue vs. blue yesterday (from Kyle Peters). ”¦ Really nice cream unis with striped stirrups yesterday for Arkansas. ”¦ Very nice to see that MLB’s official Twitter feed is promoting striped stirrups (thanks, Phil). ”¦ Alex Gordon of the Royals has stains on the back of his jerseys. It’s apparently pine tar that comes off of his bat during a stretching routine that he does while on deck (good spot by Aaron Johnson.) ”¦ Back in 1917, the Cubs and White Sox both wore jackets made by the Patrick Duluth company, which featured both squads in this great ad (from Will Scheibler).

Pro and College Football News: You probably already knew that the Duluth Eskimos had the coolest uniforms in NFL history. Now it turns out that they also had the best sideline jackets. Look how the lettering is tapered from top to bottom to keep the kerning tight throughout the radial arching — very cool (from Will Scheibler). ”¦ Hmmm, did Arizona State just reveal a grey helmet?

NBA News: Stephen Curry changed shoe colors in the middle of last night’s Warriors/Cavs game. ”¦ Love the warm-up outfits in this 1972 Sonics team portrait (thanks, Phil). ”¦ Also from Phil: Gotta love this old NBA team logo bedsheet. ”¦ A current Gatorade ad shows a Lakers player wearing No. 100. Let’s see the ref signal that to the scorer’s table (from Mark V. Malazarte).

Grab Bag: Reader Ken Traisman sent in an interesting example of another vertically lettered sign with an apostrophe — only in this case the apostrophe is near the beginning of the business name, not near the end. Of course, there should also be another apostrophe before the “s,” but that’s another issue. ”¦ The Helsinki Roosters, a youth football team in Finland, wear their team name on their socks. That sock style doesn’t fit with NFL regulations, but it would be fine in the NCAA. Kinda surprising no college team has gone that route (from Dustin Semore). ”¦ I recently began offering the Uni Watch watch, mainly because I think the name is funny. But get this: There was once a wristwatch brand called uniwatch! (Awesome find by Angelo Boscolo).

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What Paul did last night yesterday: About a month ago I noticed that the Museum of Jewish Heritage in lower Manhattan was running an exhibition on Jewish mid-century modern furniture designers, which is basically my mom’s entire aesthetic — or maybe her entire life — in a nutshell. I knew I had to get her to that exhibit.

Mom is now 91 and doesn’t travel easily. Although she grew up in Brooklyn and continued to visit the city for many decades after she and my father moved to Long Island, she had been in the city only once, in 2011, over the past 10 years. Deep down, she still considers herself a New Yorker, but she now finds the city intimidating and feels increasingly alienated from the place she once called home, so it took a bit of cajoling to get her to agree to go, but I eventually managed to convince her.

So yesterday I drove out to Long Island, put Mom in my car, and drove us to the museum, where we both thoroughly enjoyed the furniture exhibit (highly recommended), along with a few others (the one on the Nazis’ persecution of homosexuals was grim but really well done). Afterward, we got sandwiches and ate them on the Battery Park Promenade, with a view of the sexy Jersey City skyline, hot-cha-cha (photo by some guy who was walking by; click to enlarge):

photo 5-1

It was great to give Mom a day in New York (possibly her last, although I hope I’m wrong about that), and we couldn’t have asked for more perfect weather. On the way home, we detoured to my hometown and cruised past the house where I grew up, and where she and my father lived for 49 years. The new owners, who bought the place in 2004, have barely changed a thing, at least from the exterior, which Mom took as an implicit compliment (“They must have liked my landscaping, because they kept it!”). All in all, a very good day.

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Comments (91)

    As is so often the case, the rules on retired numbers aren’t absolute. If a retiree’s relative is wearing a jersey to throw out a first pitch, I expect to see his/her relative’s retired number. I just hope that some thought goes into the decision, and that whoever in the organization makes the decision knows that it’s a retired number.

    Yeah, I don’t think it’s a big deal that they used a retired number. The #3, as Paul stated, had a purpose. Heck, maybe Viktor Espinosa is a Babe Ruth fan! I just think that whatever number the team decides to put on a jersey, such as throwing out a first pitch, should first be relevant to the person that they’re making the jersey for. It’s a customized souvenir. If the Braves won the World Series during Obama’s presidency, would we flip out if they followed the latest trend and gave him a #44 jersey?

    Actually, the Giants just gave him a 44 jersey last week:

    That’s Willie McCovey’s retired number, of course.

    As an aside, this isn’t the first time the Giants have given Obama a 44 jersey, because they’ve won multiple titles during his presidency. But in the past they followed their own home jersey protocol and went NNOB:

    I thought that maybe his horse was number 3, but no. I have no problem with it, it’s not like they’re issuing it to a player.

    As soon as I saw the jockey was throwing out the first pitch, I thought, “They would have him wear #3- but they can’t do that on the NYYs.” I must Get It.â„¢

    Matt Kemp has the same thing going on as Alex Gordon. This is an old photo but he still does it with the Padres:

    Also, Paul, I just want to compliment you (if that’s the word?) for “Look how the lettering is tapered from top to bottom to keep the kerning tight throughout the radial arching”. That is probably the uniwatchest sentence in uniwatch history.

    I was at a Lynn Pirates (of the Eastern League) game in the early ’80s. They were wearing hand-me-down major league uniforms, and manager Tommy Sandt was wearing 21. I was shocked to see it, although I suppose number retirements don’t pass down through organizations.

    It depends… I think some minor league teams honor their major league affiliates in keeping numbers retired, while others do not and have their own traditions.

    Not a promotional jersey, but a draft one- link 11 is retired for Mark Messier, so this is their compromise for the draft.

    That being said, the second I saw the Espinosa thing on Twitter yesterday (with no reference to his jersey number) I freaked out. I realize that some retired numbers are more obscure than others, so it wouldn’t really register with me. But Babe Ruth is Babe Ruth…

    There seems to be a pretty clear test already: If one approves of the whole everyone-wears-42 stunt in April, then one in fact approves of using retired numbers on promotional jerseys in all cases.

    It’s only people who disapprove of the annual 42 stunt that have grounds for possibly disapproving of retired numbers on promotional jerseys. Personally, I think the key distinction is who is wearing the jersey and for what purpose. Retiring the Babe’s number 3 doesn’t transform the digit 3 into a piece of property owned by Babe Ruth. It just means that no other Yankees player will wear #3 in a ballgame. Espinoza is not a player, and he was not playing in the game. So the #3 on his back doesn’t amount to an “unretiring” of the number.

    It’s only people who disapprove of the annual 42 stunt that have grounds for possibly disapproving of retired numbers on promotional jerseys.

    Strongly disagree with this assertion, because the two situations aren’t even remotely analogous. The annual Jackie tribute is just that — a tribute. Whatever one thinks of the execution, its intent is the same as the intent of the number retirement itself — i.e., to honor Jackie.

    There was no intent to honor Babe Ruth by having Viktor Espinosa wear his number yesterday.

    So intention, not result, is determinative? That’s a valid way of judging the world, of course. Personally, I’m more of an existentialist, but most people lean more toward the essentialist point of view Paul expresses here. But if intentions are determinative in this case, then they must also be determinative in other uni settings. In which case, we have little grounds for objecting to “patriotic” or camo uniforms. There’s no doubt that the intention to honor the country or servicemembers and veterans is generally sincere and honorable, just as is the annual 42 stunt.

    So intention, not result, is determinative?

    Not determinative in terms of assessing the validity of the gesture (that’s why I said “whatever you think of the execution” regarding Jackie Day), but useful in distinguishing apples from oranges. You were trying to draw an equivalence between two situations and applying a blanket rule to both of them; I was using intent as a way of showing that the two situations aren’t actually equivalent at all, and that the blanket rule therefore doesn’t apply to them equally.

    “…and then on the other hand, science is just pure empiricism, and by virtue of its method, it excludes metaphysics. — I guess I wouldn’t believe in anything if it weren’t for my lucky astrology mood watch.”

    “Retiring the Babe’s number 3 doesn’t transform the digit 3 into a piece of property owned by Babe Ruth.”

    I’ll reserve comment on the number 2…

    And, Salty isn’t even the only catcher on his team to wear the forward facing brim now that Arizona has acquired Wellington

    Re: retired jerseys for promotional purposes, absolutely not….. The number is retired and permanently associated with that player (obvious aside to Berra/dickey). Inappropriate.

    The retired number question is a grey area for me. I feel that the numbers that were retired because of a tragedy should be off limits for a promotional jersey. In the Yankees case, Gerhig’s 4 or Munson’s 15. For players honored due to outstanding play, then I have less of a problem. Of course the Yankees could have avoided this all together by putting a 12 on the jersey to represent the 12th triple crown winner. If people don’t immediately get the 12 reference, they could do a little research on their pocket computers.

    Awesome photo of the Uni-Mom, and I’m glad you guys had a great day!

    What part of the Island are you from? (Checking in as a former resident of Massapequa Park.)

    I know the 14 on the Mets’ military appreciation jersey was for the year, but still kind of appropriate for Hodges, who served in the Marine Corps during World War II, seeing combat “as an anti-aircraft gunner in the battles of Tinian and Okinawa, and received a Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V” for heroism under fire,” (According to his Wikipedia entry).

    I don’t have a big problem with the practice, as long as it is done relatively rarely.

    I think there’s no problem with using retired numbers in promotions. It may look a little jarring, but my thought is that the numbers are pulled from on-field circulation. As long as it’s not being used by a player on the field, I think it’s fine.

    Best part about that vintage Uniwatch watch is the crown logo that looks kind of like the Kings’ old logo. Just slap a purple strap on that thing and you have gold, purple, the crown, Uniwatch…perfect!

    All wonderful:

    1. “…You probably already knew that the Duluth Eskimos had the coolest uniforms in NFL history. Now it turns out that they also had the best sideline jackets. Look how the lettering is tapered from top to bottom to keep the kerning tight throughout the radial arching – very cool (from Will Scheibler). … ”

    2. Perm Record floorboard and blackboard features.

    3. Mom.

    Looks like a lot of the kids in the Finnish football game are wearing soccer cleats.

    Since we catered to our Canadian friends, will September be used for the friends from south of the border? Sorry but celebrating the pseudo American holiday of Cinco de Mayo doesn’t count. 

    Tag line could be Grito de Dolores. NOB could be ¡Viva México! or just Septembre with the number 16. 

    If it is offered, put me down for at least 2 shirts. I’ll either give an extra to a Mexican cousin or my non-Mexican cousin who likes to tell me Happy Independence Day on Cinco de Mayo. 

    “… (C)elebrating the pseudo American holiday of Cinco de Mayo doesn’t count…”

    Whoa. Now it is certainly true that 98.3% of us non-Hispanic North Americans have no idea that Cinco de Mayo commemorates the victory of a Mexican army over a French force at the Battle of Puebla in 1863, and that Mexican independence is celebrated in September to commemorate the Grito de Dolores. It is also true that more than half of us think that we fought against Hitler and Russia in World War II, can’t distinguish Veterans Day from Memorial Day, and et cetera. I actually kind of like American non-sense of history: keeps the grudges down. So Cinco de Mayo is the day that we non-Hispanics say “Yo, Mex, you’re part of the deal. What are you drinking?” Not so different from St Patrick’s Day, which was never a big-deal civic thing in Ireland until America
    made it an opportunity to say “Yo, Paddy, you’re part of the deal.”

    Cinco de Mayo is just another excuse for American college kids to drink during the middle of a school week. Cinco de Mayo, St. Patrick’s, and Halloween are all on that list. In Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is only celebrated in Puebla and that’s it.

    Full disclosure: I drank a ton in college but I never got wasted when I had class the next day.

    I like seeing retired numbers on the field again. It makes the gesture of retiring the jersey less an exercise of killing it and sticking it in a coffin, and more an example of hope and honor.

    Don’t care for using #3 by the Yankees. Would’ve been better to go no number or a number the horse wore (the horse is the actual winner). Seems very strange to use Ruth’s number on anybody but him.

    The 14 with the Mets I understand more and can’t decide how I feel about that.

    Good story with your mom there.

    Since the American Pharoah wore (?) number 5 by having drawn the 5th post position, we’d then be having this conversation substituting Dimaggio instead of Ruth. Of course they also could have issued him #37 to recognize the 37 years since Affirmed won the last Triple Crown. But then we’d have an issue with Casey Stengel. How about #4 for trainer Bob Baffert’s 4th try at winning the Triple Crown . . . No, wait.

    I guess the Yankees are damned if they do, damned if they don’t . . .

    I think using retired numbers for ceremonial first pitches and the like are fine – you are honoring someone else for their accomplishment. Consider when teams honor other teams from their city. After the Sox won a world series, if the Bruins had Pedroia come out to drop a ceremonial first puck, he’s wearing Milt Schimidt’s jersey number, if the Celtic’s honor the Bruins and Chara comes out to do a ceremonial tip off, he’s wearing Bird’s number. But it’s also Pedroia and Chara’s number as well.

    In this case because the Yankees don’t have last names on their home jersey, maybe there’s more room for ‘confusion’ since there isn’t ‘Espinoza’ or ‘Triple Crown’ above the 3, but I don’t think it’s really about using a retired number and more about honoring someone else’s achievement with the Yankee’s jersey.

    The Mets pic just bothers me because the best they could do for that release was to stick their PR guy in the jersey, and stand him in front of an otherwise blank wall with a goofy look on his face and a swiftly-tacked-up flag behind him because ‘Murica. Then again, it’s an ugly jersey to begin with.

    I’m pretty indifferent when it comes to draft jerseys; ambivalent on sample or “demo” jerseys showing off a new look (I understand the use of a year as a placeholder, but would generally prefer actual players in their actual numbers when possible); and disdainful of other uses of retired numbers (such as first-pitch jerseys), especially if there’s no relationship to the honored player involved.

    Don’t have a problem with the #OB of Espinoza’s jersey, per se — but (as others have pointed out), perhaps the horse’s race # (5, also problematic, from a retired number standpoint) or 12 (for the number of Triple Crown Winners in toto), or even #1 (for, clearly, the #1 horse this year) would have been better than #3.

    Of course, the best solution (IMHO) would simply have been to give Espinoza a blank jersey. Pretty sure everyone in attendance knew why he was there.

    Howzabout one with three crowns in place of the #OB. I don’t think people would mistake that for a link.

    Apropos of nothing:

    I know Paul doesn’t care about merch, but Nike is selling US women’s World Cup jerseys in men’s cut.

    No big deal, it’s a World Cup year and a lot of men are supporting the women. Here’s what’s weird: they’re selling women’s jerseys with link (the crest on the front is the women’s one with the two stars). Why rep the USWNT with a USMNT player?

    Good heavens, I hope not! The only thing that gives me hope that it’s not going to be the next USMNT home jersey is the fact that it has the USWNT’s two championship stars on it. It’s not an accurate men’s replica with that decorative touch on it.

    I don’t think so – the usual cycle is:

    Men’s World Cup year (2014) – new jerseys for men/women
    Women’s World Cup year (2015) – new home/away set for women, new away set for men
    Olympic year (2016) – new home/away for men/women (plus, Copa America Centenario is held in the US next summer)
    Year before men’s World Cup (2017) – same sets as year before, though we got the centennial kits in 2013

    That white, black, and neon vomit jersey looks terrible no matter whose name is on it.

    Whoops! The official color is “volt,” not “vomit.” Honest mistake.

    Andy Dalton threw out a first pitch at a Reds game and the Reds made him a jersey with 14 on the back. It was a bit jarring to see. While 14 cannot be retired in Cincinnati officially, EVERYONE knows that’s Pete’s number and it is not to be worn.

    Re: when promotional jersey numbers clash with retired numbers.
    I think #1 is a universal promo jersey in my mind. It doesn’t matter who the promo honoree is, and it doesn’t matter who the retired athlete was. Somehow, I don’t get riled up about #1.
    Now, aside from that #1, I think it’s a sliding scale. If you’re a numbered player in your own right, you better have the stature to wear that number. And only then, it’s restricted to geography.
    Examples: If Bobby Orr gets a #4 Red Sox jersey, no issues. Don’t tell me about Joe Cronin. I know. But that’s Bobby Orr.
    link: I think this is the line in the sand. If Baltimore had a hockey team, this would be unacceptable, GTFO. But they don’t, and I think the Orioles actually had a Nationals Night at Camden Yards. I think Cal Ripken Jr. is OK lending out his #8 for that one night, to that one guy.
    link Gag. No bueno. But while we’re here, anybody know why Hoda Kotb got #24?

    Where do POTUSs stand in this scale? Would it be okay for, say, Obama to get a #44 Braves jersey or for Dubya to get a #43 A’s jersey?

    FWIW, Bush was presented with a link, which might as well be retired, even if it was still an active number at the time.

    POTUS is the head of state of one of the strongest republics in the world. And they have numbers. I’d think POTUS numbers are so strong, the 99th POTUS could bump Gretzky. Yeah, even if the Oilers win the Cup and visit the White House!

    So you think in about 250-300 years, the Oilers will have relocated to the US?Or Maybe the US will have annexed Canada?

    Yeah, but in 250 years, Washington will be underwater and we’ll have moved the capital to the moon.

    They had colored chalk in 1917?

    Now I feel cheated. White was the only one I remember in school. OTOH, as a left-hander, writing on the chalkboard was messy misery for me.

    Paul, great pic of UniMom, glad you had a nice day for the trip. And I’ll put that museum on the list of design geek things to see in Manhattan, after the Cooper-Hewitt, and Society of Illustrators.

    Of course they had colored chalk in 1917. Most of the chalk just looked white because link.

    Also a lefty, but I learned in school to write on the board with my right hand and to this day this is how I would do it – if there will still chalkboards.

    I’m perfectly okay with the Yankees giving Viktor Espinoza the number 3 jersey. The number is retired for players. As far as I’m concerned, it’s no different than buying a jersey of a player who is retired. MLB and Majestic have a “Cooperstown” line of jerseys with retired numbers for the public. The point of retiring a number is so no other PLAYER can be associated with the number. Espinoza won’t be associated with anything Yankees related by wearing that jersey. Especially since there’s NNOB.

    The Mariners wouldn’t have a problem with this because they only have officially retired #42, but they apparently will not assign 14 (Piniella), 11 (Martinez), 24 (Griffey, Jr.), 19 (Buehner) and 51 (Johnson/Ichiro)

    Has anyone gotten their June BFBS t-shirt yet? Mine says it’s “Printing” as of 5/27, which is almost 2 weeks ago.

    I don’t think they’ve arrived yet. Haven’t received mine, and nobody has tweeted/emailed me any photos. Should be this week.

    In the NBA playoffs the Cavaliers have worn their navy blue uniforms on the road. The jerseys say “Cavs,” not “Cleveland.” Have the fans complained that they’re not wearing their red road uniforms, which say “Cleveland” on them?

    I recall Cleveland fans complaining in 1997 when the Indians wore their blue jerseys, which said “Indians,” on the road in the World Series, instead of their gray ones, which said “Cleveland.” The fans wanted to promote their city on a national stage and thought the Indians were not helping. Two years later the Indians added a road version of their blue jerseys with “Cleveland” on it. Of course, they haven’t made it back to the Series.

    i’ve been complaining.. just due to me hate for the blue unis.. i love the wine and gold unis.. can’t stand navy

    What Tony said.

    Don’t mind at all that they say CAVS. I very much mind that I can’t read the numbers until there’s a closeup, and that Dan Gilbert likes navy because he grew up a fan of the team from Auburn Hills. Just wear the wine & gold.

    If the Canada Day t’s were popular, you should consider doing a Canada shirt in November with a Remembrance Day poppy

    Much ado about nothing. No one is confusing a jockey with Babe Ruth. Also helps that Ruth’s not been in the lineup for a few years.

    Come back when they roll out a #2. The proximity of Jeter’s retirement makes that a story.

    Loved the story about you and your mom! Talk about a day that you will cherish forever, huh?

    Thanks for sharing!

    I hope this isn’t considered an “obvious response”, but I think I’m going somewhere with this.

    I don’t like the idea of someone wearing Ruth’s number, or Gehrig’s number, or DiMaggio’s. Some numbers seem sacred.

    If someone came out and threw out the first pitch in Bernie Williams’ or Don Mattingly’s number, I don’t think we’d feel the same way.

    It doesn’t make sense to me, but my gut tells me that there are two ‘levels’ of retired.

    Maybe this is an illustration of too many numbers being retired. Maybe teams should only retire numbers when it would feel wrong, really wrong, for anyone to ever wear it again. Not just for really good players.

    Maybe it only feels different because Williams and Mattingly are still alive and the others are dead? That numbers are only retired and sacred when the player dies?

    No, you’re on to something there. If you have two levels of retired numbers, you’re doing it horribly wrong. My Habs have a lot of history, but only Jean Béliveau, Howie Morenz, Maurice Richard, and Guy Lafleur (the statues outside the Bell Center) seem totally untouchable. The rest of those numbers could come back. If Ron Tugnutt, Stéphane Quintal, and Ryan O’Byrne can wear some of those numbers…
    Boston Celtics. Russell, Cousy, Havlicek, Bird. Mothball Reggie Lewis (RIP) if you want and freeze Tommy Heinsohn’s number as the play-by-play guy, but come on.
    And especially the Portland Trail Blazers. Does anybody even remember that Dave Twardzik exists, let alone wore #13 for three damn seasons to a jersey retirement?

    Maybe this is an illustration of too many numbers being retired.

    I agree with this. IMHO, a player shouldn’t have a jersey retired for being very good, or even great. A retired number should be for a player who defines a team’s identity.

    Babe Ruth, Lou Gherig, Joe DiMaggio and (maybe) Mickey Mantle are integral to the Yankees lore. They’ve had great players, but less than a handful of players really define what the Yankees are about.

    Same with the Celtics. Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, and Larry Bird, sure. They defined the team during the franchise’s successful eras. But Kevin McHale? Nope.

    I like how UNC basketball (and I’m sure some other colleges) have two tiers, “retired” and “honored”, and have set criteria for each. You can have your jersey honored by being really good, but you have to be the national player of the year to be retired.

    I agree. The Celtics are the only team I know with a “retired” name. If you look at their retired numbers banner you’ll see LOSCY among them. Jim Loscutoff didn’t want his number 18 retired, and it eventually went to Dave Cowens. When it was retired for Dave they wanted to pay tribute to Loscutoff in some way. I guess if your name is Loscutoff and you get signed by the Celtics you have to change your name? ;)

    That’s a good point.

    The first thing I thought of when I saw the article here was the movie Mystery, Alaska, which is about a town that attracts the New York Rangers to play on their local rink. In the film, there’s a player on the Rangers wearing number 11. When I saw that, I gasped as if they had just shown a player getting his throat sliced open by a skate or something! I mean, it just seemed so WRONG. The number hadn’t even been officially retired yet–Messier was still an active player, and in fact would return to the Rangers not long after. But, still, it was clear that no one else would ever wear that number for the Blueshirts again.

    I hadn’t thought about it, really, but I have to admit that if they had shown a player wearing one of the numbers that had already been retired–1 for Giacomon or 7 for Gilbert–I wouldn’t have reacted the same way. Heck, maybe they did.

    Eddie Cicotte’s name is misspelled on that Duluth ad…..Don’t know why I noticed it, but I did!

    I loved that story about the OK chalkboards. It’s incredible that small air currents didn’t slowly clean or dirty the boards over 98 years.
    I have to wonder if it was done intentionally? I know I love leaving little artifacts for the future. Even when I was 10 I threw out my toybox, the bottom broke while carrying it to the curb causing dozens of small toys to spill out on our side walk. instead of picking them up, I pushed them into the dirt and buried them thinking someone will one day get a kick out of finding them.

    Watched a documentary last night and noticed Ohio State wearing NOBs in 1969, and found out they wore them as early as 1966 (with red helmets in ’66 and ’67).

    Previously thought NOBs didn’t appear in college ball till mid-70s.

    Also Michigan and Arkansas had installed artificial turf for ’69 season.


    Couple of side notes about this Seattle Sonics photo.

    Far right top gentleman in the suit… Rod Thorn, who drafted (whom?) 3rd in the 1984 NBA Draft.

    Far right bottom… Then Sonics ballboy, Rick Welts, who now Chief Operating Officer and President of the Golden St. Warriors. Rick was President and Chief Operating Officer of NBA Properties in the 1990s. He was at the helm when the NBA uni-explosion took place overseeing many of the more over the top brand redesigns like Raptors, Hawks, Suns and on and on…

    And with Lenny Wilkens as the Head Coach, that’s some serious NBA executive swagger in the team photo!!!

    If the teams in their “official capacity” issue a jersey to a “first baller” or during their promotions with a retired number, is their thing but personally, as fan, I think “violates” the “sacredness” and respect of a retired number. As a Met fan, I expect Seaver to be the only one to wear 41 in a Mets uniform in an official Mets activity. I could give the benefit to “relatives” of the player but no one else. Retired numbers are to be respected. My opinion.

    I watched a clip on Facebook of when Matt Harvey was on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Harvey presented Stewart with a Mets jersey with Stewart’s NOB and the number 17. Reading the comments on that post, some Mets fans were freaking out cause the jersey had the number 17. Seriously? 17 isn’t even retired by the Mets. Personally, I have no problem with teams using retired numbers for promotional jerseys. Maybe it’s because my brain makes the distinction. Sure, 3 on a Yankees jersey makes me think Babe Ruth but I don’t confuse the Babe with Victor Espinoza. Nor do I think Jon Stewart is suddenly gonna play for the Mets wearing the number 17. Yes, 14 is retired by the Mets but I don’t confuse the PR dude for Gil Hodges. It never really is all that jarring for me to see. Either that or retired numbers aren’t that big of a deal to me.

    As a Met fan, I also cringed when I saw the 14 on promotional jerseys in 2014. It is bothersome on multiple levels…it does not fully honor the retirement and it is also lazy to slap a 14 to represent 2014. The only reason to do that is to advertise merchandise as being authentic for 2014. Was it done by some marketing hack that does not even know the number is retired? Also indicates not one person stood up to say don’t use it.

    I sort of look at promotional jerseys as extensions of customized fan jerseys, which to me are fair game. But that begs another question: Should teams take their retired numbers out of circulation for customized team jerseys? Obviously, they couldn’t do anything if you took it to an independent stitcher, but should the team store refuse to sell Mike Smith a Mets “SMITH 14” at Citi Field?

    Can you correct the spelling on Viktor Espinoza’s name? It’s Victor.

    Well, I’m guessing that you’re more upset about the Mets photo because Jay Horowitz doesn’t quiiiiite fit the jersey the way Gil did. (Actually, the only problem I have with it is the G.I. Joke thang … Jay probably deserves to have some number retired in his honor …)

    And on a serious note, Paul: That’s a wonderful phooto of you and your mother.

    I link when Utah used Billy McGill’s #12 for a link. 12 was being used for 2012 (or maybe Pac-12).

    I think this promotion would have been fine if it had been for the game that link. Otherwise, Utah should just go with link.

    What comes to mind for me as an avid hockey fan is the Vancouver Canucks at the 2012 draft. Customary to give 1st round picks a jersey with the year of their draft in short form (i.e. 12 for 2012). In the case of the Canucks, 12 is retired for longtime captain Stan Smyl. In both keeping with the style and commemoration of the draft whilst honouring history, they gave 1st round pick Brendan Gaunce a jersey reading ’12 with the apostrophe. In a cool move, they acknowledged on the podium that 12 is retired by the organisation, but acknowledged how what they saw in young Gaunce reminded them of the tenacity and spirit of the honoured Smyl.

    So, this.

    Epilogue to my last comment, Stan Smyl is in fact head of scouting for the Canucks and was involved with drafting Gaunce.

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