Yankees struggle with uniform number crunch

The New York Yankees are facing a uniform number crunch.
Inna Zeyger
Friday March 31, 2023

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The New York Yankees, MLB’s richest franchise, biggest brand, and most successful team, are facing a uniform number crunch. It has reached such a level that they are running out of uniform numbers to give to players and planning to stop issuing numbers to their managers and coaches.

The Yankees have retired 22 numbers, which included No. 42 that both Mariano Rivera and Jackie Robinson wore. Their list is at least eight more than any other major league team, and they are holding three more numbers out of rotation. As result, the Yankees are left with 75 numbers. That looks a good, respectable number to cover uniforms for all players and coaches. But one must not forget that 69 players joined their spring training this year, and this contributed to a uniform number crunch.

Every year around this time, Lou Cucuzza, who is in charge of the Yankees’ clubhouse, feels the pressure due to uniform number crunch. This is because the rare lower numbers are always in high demand. The Athletic cites him telling that the Yankees should not provide uniform numbers to managers and coaches any more. The reason he gave was these non-playing staff usually weren’t seen sporting in pinstripes in the dugout.

“Nobody’s wearing the jerseys anymore,” Cucuzza said. “They wear them because it’s Opening Day. They’ll wear them in the postseason during introductions. That’s really it. The coaches today are probably a lot different than the coaches of yesteryear.”

Cucuzza put his proposal to Michael Hill, who is in charge of on-field operations for MLB. They are still looking into it and may not be inclined to enforce such a change just days into the regular season. But since the league hasn’t said no, this could mean that the league is thinking about how to avoid uniform number crunch for the future.

There is also a twist to this proposal. No other team is having this problem of uniform number crunch. It’s only the Yankees who have this issue. They are facing it because so many of their numbers have been taken out of use.

Yankees retired numbers

Yankees uniform number crunch a positive sign

The Yankees care more than most teams about their own history, legends, players, and fans, and they love to celebrate it notwithstanding a problem like uniform crunch. So far, they have the most retired numbers of any team in the league. It might also have something to do with the fact that some of the best players of all time played for the Yankees.

Even though they have come up with a good solution, the Yankees made this problem in the first place. When a team has had so much success in the past, it’s hard to feel sorry for them. At present the Yankees uniform crunch issue seems to be something like “Oh no, we’ve had so many incredible, memorable, and great players come through here that we don’t have enough unretired uniform numbers! Please make the rules different for us.”

Even though it can be annoying to hear about the Yankees’ first-world problems, every team should wish they had the same problems.

What do you think about Yankees uniform number crunch? Leave your comment below.

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