The Yankees announced earlier this week that they'll be adding 20, 46 and 51 - in honor of Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte and Bernie Williams - to their encyclopedic list of retired numbers this season. We're now learning that the team does not intend to stop there. In addition to the three members of the "core four and one more", they'll also retire the numbers of every member of their 1990's dynasty clubs. That includes - but is far from limited to - Paul O'Neill, number 21, Tino Martinez, number 24, Jeff Nelson, number 43 and Luis Sojo, numbers 14, 19 and 27 (hey, he wore them all).
"We realize that our current roster is not exactly what fans have come to expect from the New York Yankees," team president Randy Levine told reporters. "We think that by bringing back players from our glory days, we can trick the ticket-buying public into believing they're still watching those teams. We've made it our goal to retire a number before each of our 81 home games this year, and we think we've got what it takes to make it there."
The number 42 already appears twice in Yankee Stadium's Monument Park, for Jackie Robinson and Mariano Rivera, but the Yankees will now retire it for a third and fourth time, in honor of former prospect Domingo Jean and manager Stump Merrill, who wore it as a coach in the 80's.
"We figure, why not?" Levine said. "It's not like anyone else can wear that one anyway. Domingo's one Major League victory was the difference between 87 and 88 wins in '93 - that was huge. And Stump? What can you say about Stump? How many guys in the Yankees' great history have an entire era named after them?"
The Yankees' number retiring free-for-all will not end with actual numbers. They'll also take out of circulation the letters "BB" in homage to legendary ball boy Skippy.
"Skippy was to ball boys what Mo was to closers," Levine recalled. "That kid could really pick it down the third base line. He was here when we had Sheffield hitting those screaming line drives right at him night after night. He laughed in the face of danger."
When asked if the Yankees would reduce the size of the Mohegan Sun sports bar in center field to clear acreage for an expanded Monument Park, Levine chuckled.
"That sports bar is sponsored," he said. "We plan to make room underneath the existing Monument Park space, and in doing that we'll keep the same dungeon feel that fans have come to enjoy. Visitors will descend a secret stairway hidden behind Steinbrenner face into a dark chamber illuminated only by torchlight. To show how committed we are to honoring our history, we're considering moving one or two of the crocodiles from the moat that surrounds the Legends seats. Separate admission will be required, of course."
The increasing shortage of available numbers has left many wondering if the Yankees will soon be wearing triple digits.
"Triple digits, sure," Levine said. "Fractions, square roots...there's no reason why we should be confined to integers. Asterisks, ampersands, Greek letters, Egyptian hieroglyphics...we feel these are completely underutilized characters in sports. And we'll have 13 opening up in a few years. Nobody's retiring that one."