Though not in the Hall of Fame, Dave Stewart’s time with the Oakland A’s deserves his number #34 retired alongside other greats. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports
With the last few months’ attention focused on the comings and especially the goings of players with the Oakland Athletics, I figured I’d address a topic that commemorates and honors those special players of the Oakland A’s teams of the past.
When fans look to centerfield, on the tarps that cover the upper deck of Mount Davis, they see five uniform numbers retired from wear with the Oakland A’s.
All five were retired to honor legendary Oakland A’s players in the Baseball Hall of Fame – Jim “Catfish Hunter #27 in 1991, Rollie Fingers #34 in 1993, Reggie Jackson #9 in 2004, Dennis Eckersley #34 in 2005, and Rickey Henderson #24 in 2009.
Number 42 was retired by all teams via a league wide mandate by MLB Commissioner Bud Selig in 1997 to honor former Dodger Jackie Robinson.
Additionally, in 1995 the A’s posted a jersey in right field to honor former owner Walter A. Haas.
Teams throughout baseball (and other sports) have paid tribute to their renowned players by retiring numbers, ensuring that the all-time greats of their team will be forever remembered. The New York Yankees began the practice when they retired number 4 in tribute to first baseman Lou Gehrig in 1940, the year after his retirement.
There are former A’s players, that though not in the Hall of Fame, deserve consideration to have their Oakland number retired due to their contributions to the Oakland Athletics – especially the pennant winning years.
One that immediately comes to mind is flame thrower and club leader Dave Stewart, and HIS number 34. “Stew” encompassed four straight 20-win seasons guiding the A’s to three consecutive AL Pennants and one World Championship gaining the MVP of the 1989 World Series. Furthermore, the Oakland native gave back to his community with several generous philanthropic acts around the area.
Yes, number 34 is already retired for Rollie Fingers, but four other teams have the same number retired to honor different players. The Yankees with Number 8 for Yogi Berra and Bill Dickey, the Reds with number 5 for Johnny Bench and Willard Hershberger, The Expos/Nationals with number 10 for Andre Dawson and Rusty Staub, and the Cubs with 31 for Fergie Jenkins and Greg Maddux.
Stewart currently is the Arizona Diamondbacks GM along with former A’s manager from Stews’ era, Tony LaRussa in the front office. Unfortunately the A’s inter-league schedule this year has the A’s going to Arizona with no return visit by the D-backs or else the ideal date for such a number retirement ceremony would have been inevitable.
Space is there for a sixth number to be added, and Dave Stewart’s should be the first considered.
Others to ponder:
Mark McGwire, number 25 – Avoid all the controversy. I think its deserving of honoring the former Bash Brother and not having anyone wear number 25 again.
Sal Bando, number 6 – Captain Sal was an integral part of the A’s three-time world championships. Current A’s skipper Bob Melvin wears number 6 as a tribute to Bando. After Melvin leaves, so should the right to wear number 6.
Owner Charlie Finley – A similar uniform plaque (vest style) in the outfield alongside Mr. Haas. Remember, there’s no “Oakland” A’s without Finley who moved the team from Kansas City in 1968.