From Seinfeld episode:
SUSAN: Seven Costanza? You’re serious?
GEORGE: Yeah. It’s a beautiful name for a boy or a girl…
GEORGE: …especially a girl. Or a boy.
SUSAN: I don’t think so.
GEORGE: What, you don’t like the name?
SUSAN: It’s not a name. It’s a number.
GEORGE: I know. It’s Mickey Mantle’s number. So not only is it an all
Around beautiful name, it is also a living tribute.
With the retirement of Derek Jeter‘s uniform number, the Yankees will close the book on available single digit numbers for current and future players. It is actually a bit surprising that #2 was available to Jeter when he entered the league in 1995 since the rest of the single digits had been worn by a collection of Hall-of-Famers, including Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Mickey Mantle.
Before Jeter, here are the Yankees who wore #2 in the Bronx:
Mike Gallego (1992-1994), Wayne Tolleson (1986-1990), Dale Berra (1985-1986), Tim Foli (1984), Bobby Murcer (1979-1983), Darryl Jones (1979), Paul Blair (1977-1979), Sandy Alomar (1975-1976), Matty Alou (1973), Jerry Kenney (1969-1972), Frankie Crosetti (1945-1948), Snuffy Stirnweiss (1943-1944), Red Rolfe (1931-1942), Lyn Lary (1930-1934), Yats Wuestling (1930), Mark Koenig (1929-1930)
Who had the best season, other than Jeter, while donning the deuce for the Yankees? Here are some highlights:
1931: Lyn Lary drove in 107 with an OPS of .793 and great plate discipline, which was standard for his era.
1939: Red Rolfe led the league with 139 runs, 213 hits and 46 doubles, which rivals the best seasons of Jeter.
1944: The legendary Snuffy Stirnweiss followed up on Rolfe’s great 1939 by leading the league in several categories, including runs, hits, triples, and steals. He was even better in 1945 while wearing a different number, so the jersey cannot be credited for his success, although he wasn’t as good in 1946 and beyond.
1980: After a great career with the Yankees from 1965 to 1974, Bobby Murcer returned to the Yankees in 1979 with a new number. He only played in 100 games in the ’80 season, but managed to launch 13 homeruns and displayed great plate discipline.
Of all these players, Red Rolfe had the longest tenure with #2 and the greatest career numbers with the number as well. How do these players combined measure up to Jeter, the player who immortalized the number? Here’s a summary with Jeter’s career numbers listed first against the totals of all of the previous #2’s combined:
Games: 2747 – 4192
Plate Appearances: 12,602 – 15,803
Hits: 3465 -3732
Runs: 1923 – 2204
HRs: 260 – 177
RBI: 1311 – 1442
SBs: 358 – 287
Jeter was able to beat the field in HR’s and SB’s, but couldn’t quite keep up in the rest of the categories due to the volume of games and plate appearances by the collection of players from 1929 to 1994. It’s not a fair comparison, but it is remarkable to see how close Jeter got to exceeding the counting stats of 65 years worth of seasons from 16 players. When you break down each stat to a per-PA number, Jeter’s Hall-of-Fame career clearly shines in the stack of deuces. Perhaps “Two” or “Deuce” could even become a popular baby name. It would be a living tribute!