Yankees to retire Nos. of Bernie, Jorge, Pettitte
Club will hold three ceremonies during season; Randolph will also be honored
TAMPA, Fla. -- Monument Park is about to get a whole lot more crowded, as the Yankees will highlight their summer by presenting honors to some of the most influential figures of the club's recent championship era.
Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte will have their uniform numbers retired in 2015, accompanied by plaques beyond the center-field wall. Willie Randolph will also have a plaque installed to recognize his outstanding career.
"At the beginning, I really couldn't believe it," Posada told "The Michael Kay Show" on ESPN. "It's just one of those calls you're not expecting. What a great honor. ... We were brainwashed from the beginning, the right way, the Yankee way. Winning was the most important thing for all of us."
The moves are the continuation of a "recognition series" that started last season, which paid tribute to Joe Torre, Rich "Goose" Gossage, Tino Martinez and Paul O'Neill in similar fashion. Torre also had his No. 6 retired.
The first nod of the year will go to Williams, who will see his No. 51 retired on May 24. Randolph will have his plaque unveiled during the Old-Timers' Day festivities on June 20, and the Yankees will fete the former batterymates back to back on a busy weekend: Posada and No. 20 on Aug. 22, then Pettitte and No. 46 on Aug. 23.
Williams spent his entire 16-year career in pinstripes from 1991-2006. The five-time All-Star and four-time World Series champion is the Yankees' all-time postseason leader in home runs (22) and RBIs (80). A .297 lifetime hitter, he ranks third in franchise history for doubles (449), fifth in hits (2,336), sixth in games played (2,076) and runs scored (1,366) and seventh in home runs (287) and RBIs (1,257).
Randolph was a standout performer for the Yankees from 1976-88 and appeared in 1,688 games at second base with the team, more than any other player at the position in Yankees history. A five-time All-Star with New York who ranks third in franchise history with 251 stolen bases, Randolph also spent 11 years coaching with the club, primarily as the third-base coach from 1994-2003.
"I'm not usually at a loss for words, but how do you even respond to something like this?" Randolph told ESPN. "I've been floating around for the whole weekend, just trying to come to grips with this tremendous honor. I was just taken aback, humbled and totally appreciative of this tremendous honor. I've always been a great historian, especially Yankees history, and just to be mentioned alongside these guys is just beyond words."
Posada played 17 seasons with the Yankees from 1995-2011, collecting five World Series rings and standing among baseball's all-time leaders in postseason games played (second with 125), doubles (third with 23) and hits (fourth with 103). Posada compiled a .273 average with 900 runs, 379 doubles, 275 homers and 1,065 RBIs in 1,829 games. His 119 postseason games at catcher are the most all time.
Pettitte, who last pitched in 2013, posted a career record of 256-153 with a 3.85 ERA, plus 19 more wins in the postseason, over an 18-year Major League career. He spent 15 seasons with New York and three with the Astros. The five-time World Series winner was a three-time All-Star and the MVP of the 2001 American League Championship Series. He stands as the Yankees' all-time leader in strikeouts (2,020) and starts (438) while ranking third in wins (219) and innings (2,796 1/3).
The Yankees have previously retired 17 numbers, the most in baseball, including 8 (Yogi Berra and Bill Dickey) and 42 (Jackie Robinson and Mariano Rivera) twice. Monument Park currently showcases 29 plaques, the most recent of which was installed to honor Torre last August.