Some fans in the crowd of 55,112 last night actually booed LaTroy Hawkins when he was introduced yesterday. His crime? Wearing No. 21.
People, let it go.
Paul O’Neill is a member of the Hall of Very Good. He was a fine Yankee and he tried real hard. But he hit .303 for the Yankees over nine seasons and made the All-Star team four times. That’s really good, but that is not retire-your-number good.
Beyond that, do you know that eight players wore No. 3 after Babe Ruth? Just because Hawkins is wearing 21 doesn’t mean anything. If the Yankees want to retire the number, they can at a later date.
Further, Hawkins is wearing 21 in honor of Roberto Clemente.
Like the Celtics, the Yankees got carried away with retiring numbers. They have retired 15 numbers already and eventually that list will also include 2 (Jeter), 42 (Rivera/Robinson), probably 6 (Torre), 20 (Posada) and maybe even 51 for Bernie.
This will never happen, but the Yankees need to set some standards. To have his number retired, a player should have spent 80 percent of his career with the Yankees and been elected to the Hall of Fame. Or at least won a major award (Cy Young, MVP, Rookie of the Year, World Series MVP) twice.
Hawkins is a good guy and a good teammate. He’s living in Manhattan and he is throwing himself into being a Yankee. Guys in the clubhouse, especially the young players, have praised him for his leadership.
But he got booed on Opening Day and that’s not right. Give the guy a break. You don’t honor Paul O’Neill by trying to bring down somebody else.