Appel: The history of baseball’s retired numbers

From SABR member Marty Appel at The National Pastime Museum on September 29, 2016:

Ten years after being fired by the New York Yankees (after 10 pennants in 12 years as manager), Casey Stengel was in no mood to accept their Old Timers’ Day invitations. He was still bitter, and he turned down all previous invitations from the team.

But the 1970 invitation was different. The team’s PR director Bob Fishel included a personal note suggesting that the team wished to retire his No. 37.

Casey understood the culture of the game, and was blown away by the enormity of this honor. It was the deciding factor in his decision to end his boycott and make his long-awaited return.

“Enormity of the honor” may seem a bit far-fetched today. There are over 180 retired uniform numbers in Major League Baseball at this time. Some feel the practice has lost its special place in the game’s culture.

Still, for fans and teammates, it’s a feel-good event, surrounded by a sense of no harm done. And so even if the bar gets lowered, on it goes.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: September 29, 2016. Last Updated: September 29, 2016.