MINNEAPOLIS -- Clint Frazier yielded his No. 30 to Player Page for David Robertson on Wednesday, allowing the new Yankees reliever to reclaim the number that he feels most comfortable in. Will Paul O'Neill do the same when Todd Frazier asks about No. 21?While not officially retired, No. 21 has
MINNEAPOLIS -- Clint Frazier yielded his No. 30 to Player Page for David Robertson on Wednesday, allowing the new Yankees reliever to reclaim the number that he feels most comfortable in. Will Paul O'Neill do the same when Todd Frazier asks about No. 21?
While not officially retired, No. 21 has been kept largely out of circulation since O'Neill's final game in the 2001 World Series. Reliever LaTroy Hawkins tried using it in '08 as a tribute to Roberto Clemente, but the fan reaction was negative, prompting Hawkins to give it up by mid-April.
Saying that O'Neill was one of his favorite players while growing up in Toms River, N.J., two-time All-Star Frazier hopes that the story can be different now.
"I was not a Yankee fan. I was just a baseball fan, but those are the games I watched," Frazier said. "I was a big Paul O'Neill fan. That's why I wear the No. 21. Hopefully I can talk to him, and maybe I can get that number before I get back home."
Remembered fondly as "The Warrior," O'Neill spent his final nine seasons in pinstripes, winning four championships. The Yankees honored O'Neill by unveiling a plaque in Yankee Stadium's Monument Park in August 2014.
Newly acquired Frazier wore No. 21 with both the Reds (2011-15) and the White Sox (2016-17), and he said that it will be a "dream come true" to put on the pinstripes Tuesday, when the Yankees welcome Cincinnati to town for a brief two-game Interleague series.
"I remember going to old Yankee Stadium all the time … in the upper deck, of course," Frazier said. "The stadium would shake back and forth when something crazy would happen. I had a tryout there in high school. It's going to be a cool homecoming for me when we get back home."
Rob Cucuzza, the Yankees' equipment manager, had a busy morning on Wednesday. One locker over from where that public plea to O'Neill would be made, rookie Frazier admired the road gray uniform with No. 77 stitched on its back, saying that he thought the double sevens looked "cool."
Though outfielder Frazier was involved in a minor stir earlier this year when it was reported that he had asked if the Yankees ever consider unretiring numbers, Frazier said that it had nothing to do with a tribute to Mickey Mantle, for whom No. 7 has been shelved since 1969.
"No, I never asked for that number," Frazier said. "This is just a number that I didn't think anyone else wore, and I wanted to wear it. … I've never worn the single-digit seven. I've worn 17, which is a number that I've liked in the past. I wore 75 in Spring Training. [Dustin] Fowler wore 77. I liked how his number looked, and I wanted to wear it."
Frazier had been wearing No. 30 since being called up to the big leagues on July 1, but he yielded it to Robertson, who wore it with the Yankees from 2008-14. It is customary for a veteran to reward such actions with a gift of some sort, but Frazier said he wasn't worried about that.
"I just want to meet the guys and see what they're like, and see if they can help us win right away," Frazier said.
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.