Friday, June 14, 2024

my retired number collection - 34

this is the 34th post in a series that shares the cards i have in my retired number mini-collection. you can find the links to the previous posts down at the bottom of this post. if you're eager to learn more right now, you can check out the full list of retired numbers along with what this collection will entail over at my want list site.

without further ado, here are the seven people for whom number 34 has been retired:

rollie fingers (retired by the brewers in 1992) 1982 fleer
rollie fingers was voted into the hall of fame in 1992 on his second ballot, and the brewers retired his number a week after his induction - on august 9 to be exact. he only spent four seasons in milwaukee, but he won both the cy young and mvp awards as a brewer in 1981, and then helped the club reach the world series for the first (and so far only) time in 1982. so, it's fitting that i've used his 1982 fleer card for this collection.

it's a different game now, however fingers is still fourth on the brewers' franchise leader board for career saves (he was the top dog when he retired following the 1985 season), even though fingers ended his career as a brewer, the number retirement wasn't as automatic as it was for hank aaron. several brewers wore 34 after fingers, with mark lee in 1991 being the last to do so.

rollie fingers (retired by the athletics in 1993) 2004 topps tribute hall of fame edition
on july 5, 1993 - just over 11 months after fingers was inducted into the hall of fame, the a's retired number 34 in his honor. i've used a 2004 topps tribute card to represent this number retirement. the fact that the card notes his hall of fame induction year is a bonus. fingers spent the first 9 years (8 seasons plus a "cup of coffee" in 1968) with the a's so it makes sense that they would retire his number.

he was a four time all-star as an athletic, finishing third in the cy young voting and fourth in the mvp voting in 1975. the previous three seasons, fingers pitched in a total of 203 games, posted 61 saves, and led the club to three consecutive world series titles. the only oakland era player to appear in more games for the franchise is dennis eckersley who will show up in one of these posts in a couple of months. eckersley is also the only athletic, regardless of era, to have more saves than fingers for the franchise. still, he left the a's early enough in his career for them to reissue his number pretty much right away. the last person to wear the number was dave stewart in 1992, and we will get to him in just a bit.

nolan ryan (retired by the rangers in 1996) 1990 topps
the rangers retired nolan ryan's number on september 15, 1996 as part of an appreciation weekend for the future hall of famer. the team kept his number out of circulation after ryan retired following the 1993 season, and he wasn't elected to the hall of fame until 1999 (on the first ballot), so i guess the rangers decided to split the difference and retire the first number in their franchise's history in '96. ryan thus became one of the few to have different numbers retired by different teams, as the angels had retired 30 in his honor back in 1992.

in his five seasons as a ranger, ryan threw his sixth and seventh no-hitters, reached 300 career wins, and passed the 5,000 strikeout milestone. using his 1990 topps card for this collection makes sense not only because it shows his number nicely, but also because 1990 was the year that topps included the career retrospective subset in recognition of the 5k strikeout milestone. 

nolan ryan (retired by the astros in 1996) 2019 topps museum collection
it took the astros two weeks after the rangers retired number 34 for ryan to do the same, marking the event on september 29, 1996. they had not reissued the number since ryan left after the 1988 season, which was his ninth year as an astro. during that time, ryan twice led the league in era and also in strikeouts. i actually had a bit of a hard time finding a ryan astros card for this collection as i recall, so i was happy to see the 2019 topps museum collection card pop up in comc's database.

ryan threw his fifth career no-hitter (against the dodgers) to claim the all-time record for himself, and also reached the 3,000 strikeout milestone as an astro. and, his 1,866 strikeouts as an astro are still the most in franchise history

kirby puckett (retired by the twins in 1997) 1986 topps
it was may 25, 1997 when the twins retired number 34 for puckett, several years before they thought they would. puckett had been forced to retire prior to the 1996 season due to glaucoma, although he didn't formally announce his retirement until july of 1996. there was no doubt that the twins would have hung 34 up eventually, as he led the club to their first two (and currently only) world series titles in 1987 and 1991, with game 6 of the '91 series being a capsulized version of puckett's value to the twins organization. puckett's 1986 topps card shows his number nicely, along with him in the baby blues that the team would retire after the '86 season.

i didn't move to minnesota until later in '97 so i wasn't there for the retirement ceremony, nor did i ever see him play in person. in fact, the retirements of puckett and ozzie smith inspired me to get to the ballpark more often to see players in person. a six time gold glover and silver slugger, puckett led the league in hits four times and batting average once. in fact, no other twin has compiled more hits than puckett in franchise history. he was the last twin to wear 34, obviously, and he was elected to the hall of fame in 2001 on the first ballot.

david ortiz (retired by the red sox in 2017) 2006 topps triple threads
ortiz was another first ballot hall of famer, getting the call in 2022. the red sox, however, had already retired his number, doing so on june 23, 2017. ortiz had retired following the 2016 season, and so became the last red sox to wear the number. i think the 2006 topps triple threads card i chose shows the number nicely.

ortiz led the red sox to their first world series in 86 years, breaking the "curse of the bambino" in 2004. for good measure, he also led them to titles in 2007 and 2013. aside from the postseason heroics, ortiz is firmly set in the upper echelon of red sox hitters. he sits behind only ted williams in terms of home runs hit by a red sox player, and is behind only williams and carl yastrzemski in rbi. 

roy halladay (retired by the phillies in 2021) 2010 topps finest
halladay continues our string of first ballot hall of famers, having been voted in by the writers in 2019. his induction was posthumous, as halladay died in a plane accident in november of 2017. although the phillies didn't immediately retire the number (they did so on august 8, 2021), they did take it out of circulation following halladay's death, making andrew knapp in 2017 the last phillie to wear the number. i appreciate the numbers on the sleeves - it makes finding cards like the 2010 topps finest card above easier.

like ryan, halladay has two different numbers retired by two different franchises. his number 32 is retired by the blue jays, but the phillies had retired that number for steve carlton, so halladay took 34 when he joined the club prior to the 2010 season. he was only a phillie for four seasons, but in that time he won the cy young award and finished second in the voting the following year, and led the club to the 2010 nlcs thanks to the second postseason no-hitter in history. of course, he also threw a perfect game during the regular season that year against the marlins. he is the only phillie pitcher to ever throw two no-hitters.

dave stewart (retired by the athletics in 2022) 1992 upper deck
i mentioned stewart earlier while addressing rollie fingers and the retirement of number 34 by the a's. by the time the number was retired, steward had been wearing it for six-plus seasons, and it is possible that the team was waiting for stewart to leave the team before retiring it for fingers. stewart wound up heading to toronto after the 1992 season, and so became the last athletic to wear the number. his 1992 upper deck card gives a good look at the number, and reminds me of my high school jerseys which were modeled after these a's unis.

with the a's, stewart posted four consecutive top four finishes in the cy young voting, although he never won the award. he led the league in wins in 1987. he helped the a's win three straight pennants from 1988 through 1990, and was the mvp of both the 1989 world series and the 1990 alcs. he returned to oakland in 1995, but wore 35 so it's clear that the a's hadn't yet decided to honor stewart with a number retirement separate from fingers. eventually, they decided to honor stewart, but the ceremony was delayed due to the pandemic. he was finally recognized in a ceremony on september 11, 2022.

fernando valenzuela (retired by the dodgers in 2023) 1986 donruss
number 34 was for all intents and purposes retired by the dodgers in 1991 when valenzuela was released by the club and they chose to never reissue it. however, their policy of retiring hall of fame numbers only (except for jim gilliam's 19) seemed to prevent them from honoring valenzuela with a formal number retirement. they made him one of the inaugural members of the "legends of dodger baseball" which seemed to be the pinnacle for non-hall of fame dodgers, but then reversed course and added 34 to their officially retired numbers on august 11, 2023. 

valenzueala won both the rookie of the year and cy young awards in 1981, the same year that he led the dodgers to their first world series title since 1965. he finished second in the cy young voting in 1986 when he won a career high 21 games and also threw 20 complete games. fittingly, his 1986 donruss card shows his number nicely. side note - both he and his former teammate stewart (who wore 48 during his time with the dodgers) threw no-hitters on the same day - june 29, 1990.

anyway, aside from fernando's statistics, he was (and still is) a cultural icon for the dodgers and their fans. "fernandomania" created a huge interest in the dodgers beyond their previous fan base and he became a true international ambassador for the game. hall of famer or not, he is absolutely the type of player that should be recognized by his franchise in this way.

i am tracking a few things as we go, even though the information is already available elsewhere.

retired numbers by team (through the 34 posts so far):

yankees - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 20, 21, 23, 32, 42
giants - 3, 4, 11, 20, 22, 24, 25, 27, 30, 42
pirates - 1, 4, 8, 9, 11, 20, 21, 33, 42
guardians - 3, 5, 14, 18, 19, 20, 21, 25, 42, 455
red sox - 1, 4, 6, 8, 9, 14, 26, 27, 34, 42
phillies - 1, 14, 15, 20, 32, 34, 42
cardinals - 1, 2, 6, 9, 10, 14, 17, 20, 23, 24, 42, 85
reds - 1, 5, 8, 10, 11, 13, 14, 18, 20, 24, 42
braves - 3, 6, 10, 21, 25, 31, 42
astros - 5, 7, 24, 25, 32, 33, 34, 42
mets - 14, 16, 17, 18, 24, 31, 42
orioles - 4, 5, 8, 20, 22, 33, 42
dodgers - 1, 2, 4, 14, 19, 20, 24, 32, 34, 42
twins - 3, 6, 7, 10, 14, 28, 34, 42
white sox - 2, 3, 4, 9, 11, 14, 16, 19, 42, 72
brewers - 1, 4, 19, 34, 42
tigers - 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 11, 16, 23, 42
cubs - 10, 14, 23, 26, 31, 42
royals - 5, 10, 20, 42
padres - 6, 19, 31, 42
athletics - 9, 24, 27, 34, 42
angels - 11, 26, 30, 42
expos - 8, 10, 30, 42
rangers - 7, 10, 26, 34, 42
major league baseball - 42
rays - 12, 42, 66
diamondbacks - 20, 42
blue jays - 32, 42
rockies - 17, 33, 42
mariners - 11, 24, 42
nationals - 11, 42
marlins - 42

retired number frequency:

1 - retired by 9 teams
2 - retired by 5 teams
3 - retired by 7 teams
4 - retired by 8 teams
5 - retired by 7 teams
6 - retired by 7 teams
7 - retired by 4 teams
8 - retired by 6 teams (retired by yankees for two players)
9 - retired by 6 teams
10 - retired by 9 teams (retired by expos for two players)
11 - retired by 8 teams
12 - retired by 1 team
13 - retired by 1 team
14 - retired by 10 teams (retired by mets and dodgers for same person)
15 - retired by 2 teams
16 - retired by 4 teams
17 - retired by 3 teams
18 - retired by 3 teams (includes mets who will formally retire the number in 2024) 
19 - retired by 5 teams
20 - retired by 11 teams (retired by orioles, reds, and guardians for same person)
21 - retired by 4 teams
22 - retired by 2 teams
23 - retired by 4 teams
24 - retired by 8 teams (retired by giants and mets for same person)
25 - retired by 4 teams
26 - retired by 4 teams
27 - retired by 3 teams
28 - retired by 1 team
29 - retired by 4 teams (retired by twins and angels for same person)
30 - retired by 3 teams
31 - retired by 4 teams (retired by cubs and braves for same person; retired by cubs for two players)
32 - retired by 5 teams
33 - retired by 4 teams
34 - retired by 8 teams (retired by astros and rangers for same person; retired by brewers and a's for same person; retired by a's for two players)
42 - retired by 30 teams (retired by cardinals and yankees for individuals in addition to jackie robinson)
66 - retired by 1 team
72 - retired by 1 team
85 - retired by 1 team
455 - retired by 1 team
unnumbered players - 12 players recognized by 4 teams

running total of unique hall of famers (including those without numbers): 140

running total of non-hall of famers: 49


  1. Fingers played minor league ball in my hometown and both Halladay and Stewart are Phillies legends.

    Voting for Fernando though.

  2. Didn't realize it until I saw your post... but there were a lot of great players who wore #34. I knew Fingers wore that number, but didn't realize Stewart did too. But he was such a big part of those great A's teams of the late 80's/early 90's... I'm glad they eventually honored him.

  3. Note to all pitchers out there: #34 seems to be a good number for your kind.