Retiring Numbers

With many of the original Arizona Diamondbacks now retired from the game, it became inevitable that the question would come up of whether the team would consider retiring numbers for some of these players.

Anticipating this discussion, the Diamondbacks front office outlined the criteria that would be used when determining if a number should be retired. Perhaps the first and most important criterion is that the player must have been voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

This of course is a very high bar to be set and one that will ensure the integrity of recognizing a player’s accomplishments. Several of the more notable early Diamondbacks are now eligible to be placed on the Hall of Fame ballots.

Matt Williams, Jay Bell, and Mark Grace are some of the more well known names that have been eligible in the past few seasons. While each of these players are deserving of being recognized for their baseball accomplishments, it is doubtful that any of them will be enshrined from the baseball writers’ ballots.

Looking over past rosters, it would seem the only player who could possibly meet the team’s criteria would be pitcher Randy Johnson who announced his retirement earlier this year. He will be eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2015 and is almost assured of being a first ballot winner.

Shortly after being notified of making the Hall of Fame I would anticipate the Diamondbacks will contact Johnson to begin planning to have his number retired at Chase Field. Johnson is deserving of this honor and I am eagerly awaiting the event.

Recently, the Diamondbacks front office has come out saying they are considering exceptions to the rules surrounding retiring a player’s number. In particular they are looking at possibly retiring number 20 in honor of long time left fielder Luis Gonzalez.

Gonzalez has long been a fan favorite and was the face of the franchise for much of his tenure with the team. He put up the best numbers of his career while a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Besides his on-field accomplishments, Gonzalez is even better known for his work with the community. He gives of his time tirelessly for many charities and community events. Since retiring and becoming a member of the Diamondbacks front office he has been even more involved.

If you interviewed any Diamondbacks fan they would speak glowingly of Gonzalez and how deserved he is of having his number retired. He is one of the best human beings you will ever meet and someone who is rightfully a great role model.

While fans may applaud retiring number 20, I find myself waffling a bit. It is not that I don’t believe Gonzalez is deserving. I just wonder whether he should be the first number to be retired in franchise history?

Considering the level of excellence that Randy Johnson exhibited during his career, I believe number 51 should be the first number to hang from the rafters of Chase Field. He fulfills all of the criteria described by the Diamondbacks and it would be fitting for him to be first.

I find it a little troubling if Gonzalez goes before Johnson. Retiring a number is a special honor and I would hate to see the Diamondbacks begin with an exception rather than the rule.

So while I think both Johnson and Gonzalez are both deserving of this honor, I hope that the Diamondbacks will retire number 51 before number 20. Either way, I will be standing at my seats cheering as both of these players tip their caps one last time to the fans at Chase Field.


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