Thursday, December 17, 2009

Granderson Dons Pinstripes, Chooses #14

During a press conference held at Yankee Stadium this morning, Curtis Granderson slipped a Yankee Jersey over his head for the first time. The 28 year old center fielder wore number 28 during the majority of his time with the Tigers (except during his first call-up during 2004 when he wore 26), but had heard that Joe Girardi was eying the number in honor of the pursuit of the Yankees' 28th World Series.

“I know how tradition is and superstition is from an outside standpoint, so I don’t want to mess with that. Hopefully he’ll continue to wear it and we’ll move forward and keep on knocking people’s numbers out of the way,” Granderson explained. Instead, Curtis chose a number that had worn in high school, which also happens to be 28 divided by 2 - 14.

By choosing #14, Granderson joins 37 former (and one current) Yankees to have worn the number, the first being pitcher George Pipgras back in 1929 (who would have been given #13 if not for superstitious purposes) and the most recent Eric Hinske in Game 5 of the World Series. In between there have been 35 other players including 5 time All-Star Moose Skowron, former player and manger (and current Cubs manager) Lou Pinella, Braves manager Bobby Cox, Late-90's Dynasty role player Luis Sojo and for a short time, Robinson Cano.

More numerous though are the largely forgotten likes of Depression era pitcher Bump Hadley, World War II veteran and scab Butch Wensloff, the amusingly-named Cuddles Marshall, Italian-born Rugger Ardizoia, consummate journeyman Harry Bright, puss-y toad Hideki Irabu, utility man Miguel Cairo and recent PeteAbe age-joke punching bag, Angel Berroa.

Last winter, I wrote a post about some of the lesser know (and more poetically-named) players to have worn 14. Here is the complete list, courtesy of the excellent
George Pipgras
Hank Johnson
Ed Wells
Russ Van Atta
Bump Hadley
Jerry Priddy
Butch Wensloff
Monk Dubiel
Bill Bevens
Cuddles Marshall
Lonny Frey
Rugger Ardizoia
Ted Sepkowski
Gene Woodling
Moose Skowron
Harry Bright
Pedro Ramos
Jerry Kenney
Bobby Cox
Ron Swoboda
Lou Piniella
Mike Blowers
Pat Kelly
Hideki Irabu
Wilson Delgado
Luis Sojo
Joe Oliver
Enrique Wilson
Russ Johnson
Andy Phillips
Robinson Cano
Miguel Cairo
Matt DeSalvo
Kevin Thompson
Wilson Betemit
Angel Berroa
Although this is a pretty extensive list, #14 is only the 18th most worn number in Yankee history, trailing 26, 28, 27, 29, 38, 39, 18, 17, 22, 36, 47, 34, 12, 25, 24, 19, 21, 43 and tied with 20 and 40. The Yankees were not technically the first team to wear numbers on their backs - that would be the Indians by virtue of an Opening Day rain out in 1929 - but they have been wearing them continuously since.

Granderson will probably not be the Yankee who gets #14 retired, but with a couple of good seasons he'll be close to the top of the list of the best Bronx Bombers to wear that number.

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