Since 1929 when the New York Yankees and the Cleveland Indians were the first major league clubs to wear uniform numbers, players have been marked forever by their jersey numbers.
In Yankee Stadium at Monument Park you can see all the famous numbers that have been immortalize by such names as Billy Martin, Babe Ruth, JoeDiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Don Mattingly and Reggie Jackson.
The most famous no. 8 ever in Baltimore Orioles history was Cal Ripken. In Boston the most notable no. 9 ever was Ted Williams. No fan in Philly have forgotten that no. 20 was property of Mike Schmidt.
In Pittsburgh never has been forgotten the no. 8 Willie Stargell and number 21 Roberto Clemente.
Every franchise has its own history. Every fan is loyal to their favorite player’s number. When I pitched in the little leagues I was no. 30 in honor of Nolan Ryan. When my pitching young days were over my jersey number was no. 8 in honor of Dickie Thon.
This is my list of numbers that have been immortalize by latinos in Major League Baseball history:
3-Alex Rodriguez (Seattle Mariners-Texas Rangers))
11-Luis Aparicio, Edgar Martinez, George Bell
13-Alex Rodriguez (New York Yankees), Dave Concepcion, Omar Vizquel
18-Moises Alou, Omar Moreno
19-Juan Gonzalez, Bert Campaneris
20- Jorge Posada
21-Roberto Clemente, Sammy Sosa, Ruben Sierra, Carlos Delgado (New York Mets)
24-Tany Perez, Manny Ramirez, Miguel Cabrera
25-Jose Cruz, Rafael Palmeiro, Mike Lowell, Carlos Delgado (Toronto Blue Jays)
27-Juan Marichal, Vladimir Guerrero
30-Orlando Cepeda, Dennis Martinez, Magglio Ordoñez
34-David Ortiz, Fernando Valenzuela
45-Pedro Martínez, Carlos Lee. John Candelaria
46-Tony Armas Sr.
ESPN is celebrating 20 years of covering Major League Baseball and the network asked fans to vote for their all-time team of the last 20 seasons.
At this moment, fans are being asked to pick the winners for each position.
Not surprisingly, winning names in this national poll have been Edgar Martinez as the top DH, Albert Pujols top first baseman, Ivan Rodriguez as top catcher, and Mariano Rivera as the top closer in the last 20 years.
All players from Latin America.
For the last 23 years I have been covering the Major League Baseball beat of the Puerto Rican and Latin American players, and over that time I have seen a bunch of great players.
I’ve also seen how appealing they are to their fans. I have seen how hall-of-famers Roberto Clemente, Orlando Cepeda, Tany Perez, Luis Aparicio, Rod Carew, and Juan Marichal are perceived as never-gone heroes in the respective towns they played in in their hey-days.
Nowadays players like Albert Pujols, Hanley Ramirez, Manny Ramirez, Johan Santana and many others are closely watched and being regarded as the No. 1 players of their respective franchises.
Quite different to ESPN’ SportsNation Poll, I will share whom I believe are the best Latino players the last 20 years. Most possibly readers will have have a different opinion, but this is my own Latino All-Star team.
Catchers-Santos Alomar Jr., Javier López, Jorge Posada, Iván Rodríguez, Benito Santiago
First Base-Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Delgado, Andrés Galarraga, Rafael Palmeiro, Albert Pujols
Second Base-Roberto Alomar, Carlos Baerga, Julio Franco
Third Base-Vinny Castilla, Mike Lowell, Alex Rodríguez
Shortstop-Hanley Ramirez, José Reyes, Miguel Tejada, Omar Vizquel
Outfielders-Bobby Abreu, Carlos Beltran, José Canseco, Juan González, Vladimir Guerrero, Magglio Ordoñez, Sammy Sosa, Bernie Williams
Pitchers-Pedro Martinez, Johan Santana
Closers-Mariano Rivera, Francisco Rodriguez
Designated Hitter-Edgar Martinez, David Ortiz
Just a little time ago here in Miami, a group of New York media reporters and myself were talking about which great Yankee’s player should be next to have his uniform’s number retired.
The immediate answer was number 2′ Derek Jeter.
The quick response is understandable. For 14 seasons the nine-time All-Star shortstop’s long list mark of honors and accolades are not doubt hall-of-fame bound. Not counting that besides Mr. Yankee Captain since 2003 he has been twice Mr. Captain of Team USA in both editions of the World Baseball Classic. Sixteen (16) pages of Jeter’s biography in the 2009 Yankee Media Guide tells it all.
Moreover his number 2 is at the present time, the only number from 1 through 9 not yet retired at Yankee Stadium’ s Monument Park.
What about 51 ? Yes, Bernie Williams. The reaction from the same group was something like he deserves it but we totally forgot about him.
In The Big Apple who should have forgotten whom in 16 seasons was one of the Mr. Yankee. He racked up from 1991-2006 batting .297, 287 homers with 1,257 RBI’s, The Barceloneta native is among the top 15 Yankee career batting leader in 10 offensive categories. Five-Time All-Star; Four Gold Gloves; 1996 American League Championship Series MVP and 1998 American League Batting King.
At least in Borinquen who have forgotten when Williams and catcher Jorge Posada each hit home runs from both sides of the plate in 2000 in a win at Toronto. Only time in history that wo players have hit swith-home runs in the same game. That’s good history.
Back in March after the last Puerto Rico game in the World Baseball Classic the always amiable Williams gave us this wrap-up responses to the Puerto Rico Daily Sun in South Florida.
“I felt really good about playing,” Williams said. “I am my worst critic and I didn’t feel very bad about it. It took me a while to get acclimated. But after a while, I felt very encouraged. I can still play,”
“At this point, I don’t want to be the guy that tries to come back and goes to the independent leagues or the minor leagues for a couple [of] weeks,” Williams said. “I would certainly welcome the opportunity to play in the big leagues at some point, even though the window is very short right now.”
The window never open. And even though he never said it if he’d play for a team other than the Yankees, we really knew he would have only played for the Yankees.
Nowadays Williams, 40, is on the road on his “Moving Forward” second-album jazz tour. And we well very know he still thinks he could have been in the pinstripes uniform one more time.
Just a suggestion to the Yankees organization. Next time you invite him to play a national anthem give him finally a Bernie Williams Day like any other Yankee greats and retire his number 51 forever. And be the first Puerto Rican and Latino to be in Monument Park. Jeter can join him later.
As an extra note, if this column is read in Seattle, the Mariners should finally retire Number 11′ Edgar Martínez. His honors are very long. Then someday another Mariners’ 51 , Ichiro Suzuki.
This column was also published by The Puerto Rico Daily Sun / MLB Notebook
Por mucho tiempo se ha discutido quien es el mejor pelotero de todos los tiempos. Unos dicen Babe Ruth, otros Ted Williams o Joe DiMaggio. La lista es larga y así mismo es la discusión sobre los mejores peloteros latinoamericanos de todos los tiempos.
De nombres como entre otros Roberto Clemente, Tany Pérez, Luis Aparicio, Rod Carew y Orlando Cepeda no se pueden dudar mucho de su grandeza ya que todos ellos están inmortalizados en el salón de los más grandes en Cooperstown.
Atras en el mes de marzo cuando estuve en el Clásico Mundial de Beisbol un día en una tertulia en Fort Myers junto a Bernie Williams y Mike Lowell vacilabamos un poco del tiempo que llevabamos en el deporte del guante y el bate y como a ellos les llaman veteranos y amigablemente “viejos” en los diamantes. Precisamente bien recuerdo cuando en 1986 tuve la oportunidad de hacerle una de las primeras entrevista como profesional a Williams y no fue hasta 1991 que hizo su debut con los Bombarderos del Bronx.
En tal tertulia ambos peloteros de origen boricua y que vistieron la franela de los Yankees de Nueva York en sus carreras coincidieron que en el caso de los periodistas deportivos parecia que los calendarios no nos pasaban por encima.
Entre año y año son sobre 20 que me han pasado por encima y desde aquel ratito se me quedó quienes eran los mejores latinos que he visto en mi carrera como cronista deportivo en el béisbol de las Grandes Ligas.
En mi carrera he visto a muchos pero la tarea de resumir en un listado los mejores latinos en los ultimos 20 años no es nada de facil pero me arrriesgo a compartir mi listado con ustedes. En la lista veran algunos ya retirados y otros más jovenes que van con buen paso. Y ellos son:
Receptores-Santos Alomar Jr., Javier López, Jorge Posada, Iván Rodríguez, Benito Santiago
Primera Base-Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Delgado, Andrés Galarraga, Rafael Palmeiro, Albert Pujols
Segunda Base-Roberto Alomar, Carlos Baerga, Julio Franco
Tercera Base-Vinny Castilla, Mike Lowell, Alex Rodriguez
Campo Corto- Hanley Ramírez, José Reyes, Miguel Tejada, Omar Vizquel
Jardineros-Bobby Abreu, Carlos Beltrán, José Canseco, Juan González, Vladimir Guerrero, Magglio Ordoñez, Sammy Sosa, Bernie Williams
Lanzadores-Pedro Martínez, Johan Santana
Relevistas-Mariano Rivera, Francisco Rodríguez
Bateador Designado-Edgar Martínez, David Ortiz
Quienes serán los proximos en los venideros años….el tiempo dirá….veremos….