Retiring Numbers

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Camden Yards via wallyg's flickrstream

Playing in their 18th season of baseball, the Marlins have accumulated some history, but have yet to commemorate some historic milestones.1 At some point in the not too distant future the Marlins will have to retire a number (The team retired the number 5 for Carl Barger on Opening Day 1993, but that doesn't really count since it was for a nonplayer). Who will the first former Marlin to receive that distinction? Some thoughts below, in order of likelihood.

Gary Sheffield (not playing, but not officially retired): Sheffield was a mainstay for the first 5 years of the team's existence, holds some team single-season records, started for the 1997 World Series club, and could end up in the Hall of Fame. He's probably the most deserving member of this list at the moment.
Mike Lowell (currently playing for Boston): Lowell was a key member of the infield core from 2000 to 2005, starting for the 2003 World Series club. He is currently the Marlins career home run leader, and wins sentimentality points for having grown up in South Florida.
Jeff Conine (retired): Despite his status as Mr. Marlin, Conine's career stats are not the kind that normally get your number retired. However, his status as a team icon, role in both World Series teams, and current role as a special instructor in the Marlins organization might make up for his stats. He also has the complication of wearing two numbers during his time with the club.

You'll notice I did not list anyone unlikely to retire soon. My guess is that someone's number will be retired shortly after the new stadium opens in 2012. It's a wild guess, but a necessary one for the purposes of this exercise.

1For our purposes here, historic milestones include (but are not limited to): anniversaries of championships, retired numbers, and breaking of team/league records. In short, these are the things that remind us this team has been around for awhile. They are the edifice of permanence.


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