Thursday, February 16, 2012

Would the Twins take a number out of retirement?

An interesting story for baseball fans to follow over the course of the last week has been the ongoing saga of the Miami Marlins allowing Logan Morrison to wear the number five for this coming season. The controversy over this has come out of the fact that the Marlins have never had a player wear this number in their franchise's history. When the team was a expansion franchise in 1993, the club retired the number five in honor of Carl Barger, their first president, who passed away before the team's inaugural season. The number five was picked because Joe Dimaggio, Barger's favorite player from his youth, wore it.

The family of Barger was upset with the recent news because they were never consulted by the team about the decision to take the number out of retirement. In a recent post from the Miami Herald the granddaughter of Barger spoke out against the franchises decision to allow Morrison to wear number five. "My family and I are disappointed that that is the decision," said Betzi Barger. "We weren't informed of it. We were not contacted by anyone in the Marlins' organization. I would have liked to discuss it with the family."

During last month's Diamond Awards held at Target Field, the Twins announced they would be adding another number to their list of retirees. Tom Kelly will become the seventh member of the Twins franchise to have his number permanently retired. He will follow in the footsteps of Harmon Killebrew, Tony Oliva, Rod Carew, Bert Blyleven, Kent Hrbek, and Kirby Puckett. All of baseball also honors the accomplishments of Jackie Robinson by having his number retired across the sport even though many players will wear his number on MLB's Jackie Robinson Day at the beginning of the year.

So the question is, would the Twins take a number out of retirement?

In comparison to the Marlins franchise, the Twins are in a little different situation when it comes to retired numbers. All of the numbers retired by the Twins organization are from players and a coach who have made a tremendous impact on the franchise since they moved to Minnesota. These are the faces and personalities who have formed the identity of all that is Twins baseball. To some of the fan base, the thought of bringing one of these numbers out of retirement might be sacrilegious. In the case of the Marlins, the number being taken out of retirement was for a front office personality who never wore a number on the field for the club. This is not to say he was not deserving of the honor but the situation is a little different.

There have been recent examples of team's taking a number out of retirement for a special circumstance or for a special player. In 2010 when the White Sox acquired Omar Vizquel they took the number 11 out of retirement for the veteran infielder. The White Sox had retired the number 11 to honor Luis Aparicio, a Hall of Fame player for Chicago. In this situation Aparicio and Vizquel were both from the same country and they knew each other prior to Vizquel joining the White Sox. It was a mutual agreement between the two players and the franchise to allow Vizquel to honor Aparicio by wearing his number.

The moral of the story for any franchise looking to take a number out of retirement is to consult with the player or family of the player before the final decision is made. The recent situation with the Marlins provided a good example of what not to do in if the opportunity arises to unretire a number. If the Twins were going to take a number off of the railing under the Budweiser Roof Deck, there would need to be an extreme set of circumstances. 

When Twins President Dave St. Peter was asked about the possibility of the Twins ever taking a number out of retirement if the circumstances were right, he said, "[The] short answer. NO."It seems safe to say that the Twins won't be looking to start a controversy in the near future by unretiring a number. Twins Territory can sleep a little easier tonight...

1 comment:

thrylos98 said...

I think that we are talking somewhat apples and oranges... Other than the mandated numbers, the Twins have retired number who were worn by Twins' players (and a manager). So they honor Twins. If the Twins have retired Di Maggio's number because that was someone's favorite ballplayer, I would want that unretired ASAP :)